THE National Hunt season is about to move into top gear across the channel and Bryan Carver, who hails from north Cork, is a jockey that you should follow over the winter months.
The former Coláiste Treasa student is one of the rising stars of jumps racing in the UK.
The 22-year-old conditional jockey, who is based with leading trainer Paul Nicholls, enjoyed a fruitful season last term. He recorded a host of winners under rules and landed the much sought-after hands and heels series.
Carver has already tasted success over the summer months, and he is really looking forward to getting the leg up on some promising and seasoned campaigners once the season takes off in the coming weeks.
The young rider is full of confidence after his success last year and he considers last season to be a landmark in his fledgling career.
“I was over the moon to win the hands and heels series, there is a lot of top lads taking part in it over here.
“I was very lucky to get the continued support from my boss Mr Nicholls as well as a lot of other handlers. I think the series is a very good, not only do you gets points for finishing in the top three of races, you also obtain points on your appearance and how you present yourself to owners and trainers on race day.
“It helps you to improve as a rider on the track as obviously you don’t use your whip and it shows you what it takes to be a professional jockey off the track as well.
“Appearance and how you conduct yourself are paramount nowadays.”
The popular jockey was very pleased with the way the season went for him despite picking up a nasty injury and the season coming to a premature end.
“I’m delighted with the last season really. I didn’t turn conditional until August last year, things were quiet to be fair until October when I rode my first winner as a conditional, I tipped away until December and things started to take off for me then.
“I rode a double at Wincanton in mid-December. I was thrilled to record a treble at Exeter on New Year’s Day. I rode eight winners in a space of a week.
“Unfortunately, I missed a month then because I broke my collarbone, but I got back and finished the season on 23 winners which is great.”
Carver is the envy of a lot of jockeys. He is based with one of the best trainers that the sport has ever produced.
“I am very lucky to be working for Paul Nicholls, he is a great supporter of mine and is very generous letting me ride for other trainers when I can. I can’t ask for more to be fair.”
Carver differs from most of his weigh room colleagues as he doesn’t come from a family with a connection to racing, unusually for a professional jockey he didn’t sit on a racehorse until he was 16.
“I was in transition year in school when I first rode a horse. It happened by accident really, my first cousin is Killian Leonard who rides on the flat back home, he invited me one Saturday morning to go along with him to Mick Winters yard.
“From the moment I was put up on a horse I just fell in love with it and went along every weekend after that.
“I spent a little time at Louis Archdeacon’s as well, it was Mick and Louis who have played big parts in getting me started as a jockey.”
The promising young rider plied his trade in the point-to-point fields for a while with little success. Winters suggested to him that if was to taking riding seriously and give it a go he would have to move to the UK.
Following a spell riding as an amateur, he turned conditional on the back of 39 point-to-point winners in the summer of 2019 and hasn’t looked back since.
The talented horseman has a bright future ahead of him and, with the backing of one of the sports most powerful yards, he’s a jockey to keep on your side over the months and years ahead.