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Jumps Jockeys Heading In New Directions


Jumps riding is again proving to be an important pathway for jockeys and the racing industry.

Recently two of the state’s younger jumps jockeys, Tom Sadler and Clayton Douglas, both at the age of 26, retired to concentrate on training.

One of the state’s more established riders Tom Ryan has also added to his career path by taking up a position as Sales and Client Liaison Manager for Lindsay Park.

Sadler has only recently joined his father, astute horseman John in a training partnership.

Douglas gained a training licence last year and has decided to channel his energies into his expanding team at Mornington.

Sadler had a successful apprenticeship before struggling with his weight and he then turned to jumps racing.

Sadler though won’t be lost to jumps racing as he and his father intend to have jumpers in their team.

Sadler said his father hasn’t trained a jumper since the early 1990s, which was a horse called Mountain Oak who won the Cup Day Hurdle at Flemington in 1992.

“John is really looking forward to having a team of jumpers and getting back into it. We’ve already got one horse ready to go for next season and we’re looking out for others,” Tom Sadler said,

Sadler said they will move their training operation from Caulfield to Pakenham in mid to late November where they have excellent schooling facilities.

Sadler said from his time as a jumps rider he gained an important insight into a horse’s psychology.

“Racing over the jumps it’s a bit more of a process training them to get there. You’ve got to build them up to be fit, healthy and sound which takes time.”

“When you ride a jumper, you get trained to know what a horse's reactions are. You get an insight into a horse’s psychology,” Sadler said.

“You’ve got to make it enjoyable for them. You get to know whether they respond to a bit of firmness or a cuddle. You get a great understanding of the thoroughbred.”

Sadler said he had derived great enjoyment from having success riding Henry Dwyer’s jumpers The Dominator and Solar Coaster but it was a maiden Steeple win at Warrnambool on Laylite in July 2019 which was the highlight of his career.

“It’s hard to believe but I got such a kick out of that. Laylite is one of the slowest horses, maybe the slowest horse I’ve ever ridden but he was an amazing jumper,” Sadler said.

“It was a bog track, as heavy a track as I'd ever ridden on and that’s the only reason he could win. I got such a kick out of that. I carried on like Nick Hall after he had won the Caulfield Cup. I’ve also won a Group race but haven’t carried on like that.”

“It was the combination of the horse and then the Pateman and Barton families who were involved with him.”

There’s no question for Clayton Douglas what were the standouts moments of his career which were his two Grand Annual Steeplechase wins on Gold Medals in 2018 and 2021.

In a similar fashion to Sadler, Douglas has also transitioned from being a picnic rider to a jumps jockey and now a trainer.

Douglas said being a jumps jockey had given him a better understanding of the horse which he felt would also make him a better trainer.

“You pick up a good understanding of horses through riding them over the jumps.”

Douglas said his stable was full of younger horses and he needed to concentrate on riding them.

“I’d have loved to have stayed on for one more year and ride Gold Medals in next year’s Grand Annual but the reality is I’ve got to concentrate on my training business,” Douglas said.

Tom Ryan intends to keep riding for a couple more years and is excited about his new position at Lindsay Park.

Ryan said a central part of his job will be looking at yearlings before and during the sales season. He will also ride track work for the Hayes brothers.

“It’s something I like doing and I’ve been doing it for a few years but this will take it to the next level with Lindsay Park. I was thrilled to have been given the job,” Ryan said.

Ryan also said through his jumps riding he also had a better understanding of the different traits horses showed.

Ryan said he would be busy for six months at the end of each jumps season looking at yearlings and attending the sales but during the jumps season he would be able to still ride.