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Denis Ryan riding horse. 1964

Denis Ryan riding horse. 

Denis Ryan riding horse. 

Denis Ryan riding horse. 

Denis Ryan riding horse. 

Denis Ryan riding horse. 1964
  • SKU: SCAN-NOP-00503432

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Denis Ryan, British jockey. He was born in 1936, he is retained by W. Stephenson; his favourite race course is Birmingham. Denis Ryan was born in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, on May 2, 1936 and, for a while, lived at Fresh Winds, Heydon, Royston. After leaving school he became apprenticed to Royston trainer Willie Stephenson and spent his entire career with him, eventually riding some 350 winners. He first appeared on a racecard when riding Lady of Windsor for Stephenson at Birmingham on June 22, 1953. Denis celebrated his 19th birthday by winning Kempton's Great Jubilee on the grey four-year-old Swept. He got the 100-9 outsider up by a short head from Prefect, ridden by Scobie Breasley. A length and a half back in third was that good handicapper, Durante, ridden by Doug Smith. Denis's family, who then lived at Milbourne Terrace, Merthyr, crowded round the radio and cheered him on. A week earlier, Denis - who weighed in at just seven stone - had won the final of a jockey boxing tournament and had been presented with a silver statuette of a horse by the Duke of Norfolk. (below) Denis on Swept A journeyman jockey, he did not ride many big winners in Britain, but did win the Calcutta Derby two years running when riding in India. In the winter of 1971-72 he won 27 races there, including the Calcutta Derby, 2,000 Guineas and Champion Stakes. He returned to England on Friday March 3, 1972. The highlight of his domestic career came courtesy of Articulate, who triumphed in the 1956 Chester Vase under 7st 6lb when Denis was an apprentice. Recalling the horse, Denis said: "I was going to ride him in the Derby and had already walked the course when I was jocked-off in favour of Doug Smith. He had been due to ride Idle Rocks, owned by David Robinson, but something happened and the colt didn't run. He was a quirky sort of horse, who'd stop at the canter, whip round and half-rear. Doug was frightened to death of him." Articulate finished out of the frame. Denis was the jockey on board when Loot of India (100/8) landed a massive gamble at Redcar on September 20, 1969 when winning the Cub Hunters Nursery Handicap for trainer Peter Moore. Denis retired in the late seventies, and moved to Cromer on the Norfolk coast and became a publican. Recalling this, he said: "I bought the Pheasant in Heydon Road at Great Chishill near Royston, the village where I lived. We worked hard and built it up and would get a few of the racing lads down occasionally. "Willie (his jockey son) would bring some of the jockeys over, and when Steve Cauthen, who was riding for Henry Cecil at the time, came for something to eat, he'd always want it steamed.'' Denis admits that 14 years in the licensed trade rewarded him more fruitfully than his previous racing career. "I would never have been able to retire from what I made riding." On Christmas Eve, 1959, he married Willie Stephenson's daughter, Marshella Lavina. She gave him two sons, Bruce and William, and one daughter, Jacqueline. Although he has not sat on a horse since he retired, "and never will again", Denis still feels involved in the game he loves through his Derby-winning son. Speaking of him, he said: "Willie is as good as any jockey riding, but I suppose any father would say that about his son. Mind you, I'm his biggest critic. If I think Willie has ridden a bad race, I'm soon ringing him up to tell him!'' Denis died in 2004.

Photograph details
SizeText 4.8" x 6.6"

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