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Adam Farragher, the young apprentice jockey, ‘rated highly’ by William Haggas

As Thunder Legend passes the post an impressive 5 1/2 lengths ahead of his nearest rival, the shutter on my camera fires a dozen times and I have my photo. For 22-year-old apprentice jockey, Adam Farragher, today’s winner is a welcome tonic. In the 4.54 at Newmarket, on the 26th August, Farragher’s nightmare summer has come to an end. He is well and truly back in the saddle, even if he is a “little bit rusty” according to his boss.

Farragher suffered a foot injury on the gallops back in March, just a couple of days ahead of The Lincoln where he was due to ride the well fancied Mujtaba. In addition to missing out on a dream ride, he would have to wait until late August for his injuries to fully heal. Having spent 13 weeks in a cast, the humble Irishman returned impressively to ride a winner on his first day back at the July Course in Newmarket.

Farragher would have to wait until the last race of the day to ride his winner. Having jumped out of the stalls well, Farragher opted to guide the joint-favourite Thunder Legend to the far rail and out to the front of the field. Once there he was never challenged. The William Haggas trained 3-year-old gelding would go on to win the 6-furlong sprint by 5 1/2 lengths – running on and being ridden all the way to the line.

Newmarket, UK. 27th Aug 2022. Thunder Legend ridden by Adam Farragher wins the 4.54 Jenningsbet Handicap Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse, UK. Credit: Paul Blake/Alamy Live News.

Farragher’s relief in the winner’s enclosure was palpable, “That was a relief more than anything and it was good of the boss [Haggas] to put me up on two favourites on my first day back.”

Having taken Farragher on as an apprentice in May 2021, on the recommendation of Ted Durcan, William Haggas has nothing but praise for his young apprentice from Skibbereen, West Cork. I managed to catch up with the Newmarket-based trainer earlier in the week and I started by asking about Farragher’s strengths as a rider.

“Adam is a strong rider; a good horseman who gives his horses plenty of rein,” he explains.

He goes on to tell me that when Farragher joined him, he was on the light side at just 7st 12lb, and that he feels it is important for young jockeys to build their upper body strength. In light of changes to the recent whip ruling, Haggas believes that riders with the strength to push and gather horses effectively are most likely to prevail in the future. As a result, Haggas has pressed Farragher to work on building his upper body strength throughout the winter instead of riding on the all-weather.

Commenting on Farragher’s progress, Haggas remarked that “when he arrived with us he used to bash them a bit. We don’t really like that here and he is getting much better.”

“We wanted him to keep his 5lb claim so I stopped him riding in the winter. He wanted to ride on the all-weather but I wanted him to keep his claim for the turf. I regret that.”

In saying that he regrets not allowing Farragher to ride in the winter, Haggas is referring specifically to the injury that caused his apprentice to miss the majority of the turf season and the plum ride in The Lincoln. Not that anybody could have foreseen that.

As we finish our chat, I learn that Haggas sees Adam Farragher as a “humble guy” somebody he “rates highly.”

I press him a little about Farragher’s potential but 2022’s leading flat trainer is not to be drawn. “He will lose his claim” is about as far as he will go. “At the moment he is a bit rusty. He’s just getting his confidence back.”

Since riding Thunder Legend to victory in August, Farragher has failed to register another winner in 16 attempts. He has two rides at Beverley later today.