Pre-pandemic, jumps jockey Aidan Coleman’s last major win came at the Cheltenham Festival. Sadly, there was no back-to-back win for the much-fancied Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle, with Coleman in the saddle.
Instead, it was on the 16/1 chance Put the Kettle On that the Irish jockey had success – in the Arkle Challenge Trophy. It was the second time he had ridden the Henry de Bromhead-trained mare and marked a second – but no doubt – more memorable victory, particularly given the nature of the field, featuring the likes of Fakir D’oudairies and the favourite, Notebook.
It was also his second win at the iconic Cheltenham Festival – and a third victory in a Grade 1 race. Two more wins at Market Rasen and Wetherby – both in Class 5 races and riding the favourites – followed, before the sport was suspended as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Since the jumps season resumed last month, Coleman has ridden five winners, but sadly, his season was halted again – this time by injury. He had been racing at Southwell and finished seventh in the Novices’ Handicap Chase on Oscar Maguire, before entering a second handicap chase, this time with Dieg Man. After taking a tumble, rendering him unable to finish the race, it was revealed that Coleman had fractured his humerus – and likely to return in October.
The Cork-born jockey wrote on his website: “I’ve had plenty of contact with BHA doctor Jerry Hill and my specialist Geoff Graham, who have both been amazing, and after my scan they have told me to expect a ten- to 12-week break before I can go back racing.
“I’m looking forward to getting to Oaksey House in Lambourn as soon as possible to start my rehabilitation and I’m then looking forward to returning in October.”
Given the stop-start nature of the season before this point, the timing was unfortunate – with Coleman now longing for a return and reaching the dizzy heights that he did last season, where he fell just short of 100 winners. He had gained some quite good momentum over lockdown, marking a return with five victories, albeit in smaller races.
There has even been talk of Coleman becoming the next retained rider for JP McManus, following the shock retirement of Barry Geraghty. It’s not a surprise, given Coleman is an established name and he’s had success in the past with a number of McManus’ horses, including the likes of Epatante and Champ – in fact, excluding Geraghty, Coleman has secured the most victories for the trainer in UK racing over the last five years. It seems like a match made in heaven – despite the pressure mounting on whoever takes over from Geraghty, such is his record.
But it’s a position, he massively plays down. When asked about it, the Cork native told Racing Post: “I wouldn’t have a clue. I’m very fortunate that I ride for a lot of people, I’m very busy and I ride a lot of nice horses. I’m just concentrating on myself and what will be will be after that.”
While the Irishman is one of the leading names, not only to secure that post but also one of the earlier favourites to finish the season as Champion Jockey, fans won’t be seeing his name on today’s racing results for a while. Such is the nature of the life of a jockey.