28 March 2022

Rossa Ryan expecting Mojo to Star at the highest level

28 March 2022

Rossa Ryan feels Mojo Star is capable of winning a Group One this season – possibly over two miles.

The Richard Hannon-trained Sea The Stars colt proved last season’s 40-1 Derby runner-up effort was no fluke when filling the same position behind Hurricane Lane in the St Leger.

And the young jockey, fresh from making a blistering start to the new Flat racing season with a Doncaster treble on Saturday, is hopeful Mojo Star will strike at the highest level this term.

Ryan said: “He looks great and he is in full work now and everyone is happy with him. I don’t know what his starting point will be.

“It will be interesting to see what route he is on and it would not surprise me if he stepped up to the two-mile category this year.

“I would like to see him get his head in front in a Group One, because he stayed well last year.”

Galway-born Ryan, 20, cut his teeth in the fiercely-competitive Irish pony racing scene, which opened up avenues for the likes of Rachael Blackmore, Barry Geraghty and Bryan Cooper.

He feels there could soon be a changing of the guard in the weighing room, with some of those he rode against in his formative years starting to make their mark at the top level.

They are the new kids of the block. They are coming through like a few over here, such as David Egan and Jack Kennedy. I wasn't exactly riding against jockeys who did not know the time of day.

“I did a bit of pony racing around the same year as the lads that are flying at home – the Dylan Browne McMonagles, the Shane Crosses, the Ben Coens, the lads who all have big jobs in Ireland,” said Ryan.

“They are the new kids on the block. They are coming through like a few over here, such as David Egan and Jack Kennedy. I wasn’t exactly riding against jockeys who did not know the time of day.

“It was a good era of pony racing jockeys, who have really shone since they have got on the track.

“You see with David Egan, Roger Varian is not afraid of putting him up in a big race. That is what you have to admire about the Irish lads.

“Ben Coen is very young to get assigned that job with Johnny Murtagh, but obviously Johnny thought an awful a lot of Ben and it is the same with Oisin Orr and Joseph O’Brien. They never fear to give the younger lads a chance.”

Arthur’s Realm was the middle leg of a treble for Ryan at Doncaster (Simon Marper/PA) (PA Wire)

Ryan made a great start to last season’s campaign and was second in the jockeys’ standings when he broke a collarbone in a fall at Wolverhampton in May. He then had to undergo an operation to treat appendicitis, eventually returning at the end of June.

Despite the setback, he still managed 120 winners overall, with 54 of them between May 1 to British Champions Day at Ascot in October, the period which determines the jockeys’ title.

“I was out for six weeks,” said Ryan. “I was on a roll and came in for some lovely spare rides, and some nicely handicapped horses and obviously the setback meant it took time to get going again.

“You are in full swing and then suddenly, at a vital part of the season, people are not seeing you and they can quickly forget.

“Hopefully, this year will be injury-free and we go the way were were last year.”

Some see Ryan as a future champion with Coral and Ladbrokes offering 33-1 to lift that crown this season.

Chindit took the Doncaster Mile and could now head to Newbury (Simon Marper/PA) (PA Wire)

Despite reigning champion Oisin Murphy being sidelined this year and having the support of the powerful Hannon yard, Ryan insists title talk is fanciful.

“Titles are still a long way off yet, but I would like to be champion jockey one day,” he said. “That is every jockey’s dream, but hopefully that will be one dream that comes true.

“But Saturday was a great start. We all liked the two-year-old in the Brocklesby (Persian Force), but everything in the race was an unknown and he was going to be our marker as to where all the rest of the two-year-olds at Hannon’s stood.”

Chindit won the Champagne Stakes as a two-year-old in 2020 and was successful in the Greenham Stakes last spring, but had not scored subsequently until taking Saturday’s Listed Doncaster Mile. The Lockinge Stakes could be on the cards for the Michael Pescod-owned four-year-old.

“He is a horse we like,” said Ryan. “He did what he was expected to do and has plenty of class.

“Ours had all run very well at Doncaster, but I’d like to see all of them improve as well, as they were going there with a bit of improvement to come, which Richard’s tend to do anyway.”

Albaflora is expected to improve, according to Rossa Ryan (Alan Crowhurst/PA) (PA Archive)

Ryan rode three Group Two winners last season, including Hello You, who scored in the Rockfel Stakes and could be on course for the 1000 Guineas.

He is also expected to renew his partnership with the Ralph Beckett-trained Albaflora, who was runner-up in both the Group One Yorkshire Oaks and British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, and David Loughnane’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint runner-up Go Bears Go.

“Hello You and Albaflora are both back in training, which is great,” said Ryan.

“Albaflora is back as a five-year-old and I would imagine she would improve again, the way her pedigree is.

“Go Bears Go and Hello You have both wintered extremely well.

“Everything they have done at home has been extremely good and while we haven’t asked them too many questions, we want to find out on the track whether they have trained on or they haven’t. That will be the question for every horse this year.

“There is a lot to look forward to and it is a great start.”

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