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Rising stars: Who are Benoit de la Sayette and Billy 'The Kid' Loughnane?

As the curtain went up last weekend on the 2023 British flat turf season, and on the same weekend Willie Mullins announced the retirement of Irish Gold Cup-winning Kemboy (he gave Ruby Walsh his last ride, winning the 2019 Punchestown Gold Cup), there were two names on everybody's lips: 16-year-old Billy Loughnane, and 19-year-old Benoit de la Sayette. But who are these two young apprentice jockeys, and what success have they had to date?

Billy 'The Kid' Loughnane

Riding Robyn Brisland's Doddies Impact to victory in race one of the season (the Brocklesby), Billy 'The Kid' Loughnane (as he's known in the weighing room) has become an all-weather star over the winter recess, racking an extraordinary 21 per cent strike rate. After his twentieth win in 2023 (which came only at the end of January), he was featured across the national press. The son of Midlands-based trainer Mark Loughnane, Billy cut his teeth on the pony racing circuit. He told the BBC, while still studying for his GCSEs, his dream is to become Champion Jockey, idolising former champion apprentices, including Tom Marquand and (below), incumbent champion Benoit de la Sayette.

Benoit de la Sayette

Another graduate of the pony racing circuit, Benoit de la Sayette was crowned Champion Apprentice at Ascot last October. Bouncing back from a drugs ban in 2021, he celebrated a second Lincoln win last Saturday, riding David Menuisier's Migration to victory in heavy Doncaster going. On a day 19-year-old Jonny Peate also impressed in the Spring Mile, as John Gosden looks for a Dettori replacement, Benoit's name is one being mentioned. Like Billy, he's one to watch for years to come... Dettori 2.0 or not.


For 2023 & 2024


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