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Beasley has come out fighting hard despite being Connored

Author: Duane Fonseca


It was 1970 when the Canadian singer and songwriter Joni Mitchell wrote, composed and recorded one of folk music’s greatest ever songs. With brutally honest lyrics that carried a voice expressing environmental concern and a sound that delighted itself in simplicity, ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ transcended time and remains what it is: an enduring anthem for environmental activism. Ever since a serious accident nearly threatened to ruin his riding career, Connor Beasley has adapted one of its lines to his existence. Mitchell wrote: ‘Don’t it always seem to go, That you don’t know what you’ve got, Til it’s gone’.

Beasley’s cover is slightly different and was put together as he was left recovering from a horrendous fall while race riding at Wolverhampton, an incident that left him nursing a fractured skull and spine, and extensive injuries to his neck and ear. In an interview then, he had said: “People say that you only really appreciate something when you don’t have it anymore, and it’s true. “This is something I have to overcome and battle through, and I’ll do that. And when I do get back to riding, I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure I’m even better than I was before.”

He has done exactly that and is seemingly having a blast in his rookie season in the UAE and Beasley is definitely one of the names to watch out for in 2017/18. He has already ridden seven winners and is looking good to make hay in the gloriously sunny Emirates. “I’ve gotten off to a good start and it’s always nice to get a good amount of winners early in the season, so I’m really thankful for it,” Beasley told Al Adiyat after giving himself a bit of time in the jockeys’ room to shrug off the anxiety that followed his victory aboard Ahmad bin Harmash’s Pathway To Honour in a 1400m handicap contest in Abu Dhabi last week where he was given a clean chit by race stewards after accidentally striking second placed Najm Suhail, the mount of Tadgh O’Shea, close to the wire.

“You expect to start well and that’s obvious, but I’m glad with the way things have gone so far and the support I’ve been getting from a lot of good trainers and owners is really helping,” he continued. One of the most striking things about Beasley’s appearance are his piercing blue eyes that stare intensely from under his perennially arched eyebrows. However, the thing winning him races is his incredible confidence which has surprised his chief employers here in the UAE. Emirati handlers Bin Harmash and Helal Al Alawi have both noticed how the 23yo from Spennymoor in County Durham in England goes about his business.

“Connor is very hard working and sharp and you want to help guys like that,” Bin Harmash said after the Abu Dhabi race. Al Alawi added: “He is a good skilled rider who knows his trade very well.” The way he rides you would think Beasley arrived in the UAE well before the start of the season to get himself acclimatised with conditions. But no. He landed here a week before the 2017/18 campaign was underway and now claims he knows his way around tracks at the five venues like the back of his hand.

Success is his vindicator and Brabbham’s triumph over Resonant in a 1950m rated conditions race at Jebel Ali on 1 December provided ample proof of Beasley’s immense talent and knowledge. With just 50m of uphill dirt left to make up ground, Beasley convinced Bin Harmash’s charge to dig deep to find whatever reserve fuel he could muster and win by a length and a quarter. “I rate Brabbham’s victory at Jebel Ali as the best so far in the UAE. But I was also happy to get a first win at Meydan with Chess Master You have to ride the tracks to adapt to them and I did that,” revealed Beasley, who rode 51 winners in the UK last season and who rates his victory aboard the Michael Dods-trained Spinatrix in the Coral Sprint Handicap at York on 11 October 2014 as the biggest of his career to date.

“I know each of them off hand now. I came a week before the season and had a feel of the horses and to get used to the conditions and trainers. I like it; I’m riding well and winning races and the support I have received has been very good. I never rode Purebred Arabian horses in my life before coming to the UAE and I already have two winners, so I’m really looking to it all falling into place.” The stars had started to align long before Beasley was even born. His grandfather Bobby was a jockey, who later served as assistant trainer to Arthur Stephenson, and his parents Susan and Shaun were both work riders.

Beasley would accompany his mother to her yard from the age of six and later began competing in pony racing, show jumping and eventing. He teamed up with Michael Dods in 2012 and started his apprenticeship riding in July that year, but a year and half later had already ridden out his claim and turned professional. “I have been race riding since I was about 18. I did my apprenticeship with Michael Dods up in the north of England and then rode out my claim and turned professional,” he said. Beasley’s worst nightmare arrived hot on the heels of the dream start he had given himself. It happened at Wolverhampton in July 2015, in his first full season as a professional.

He had already ridden 29 winners for the year when his horse Cumbrianna, trained by Bryan Smart, clipped the heels of another runner in a sprint event casting Beasley into the murky skies of uncertainty. He had been hospitalised with a severely broken body; his spirit, however, lay intact. He steeled himself and bolted upright by a brace to hold erect his spine and braces for his head and neck he returned to Dods’ Denton Hall stables three months after the accident. Nine months later, determined to get back in the saddle he returned to racing. And what a return it turned out to be as in the nine months of the 2016 UK season that he was able to ride, he finished with 60 winners in the UK. “Before I came out here I rode 51 winners this year in the UK, so I’ve done well.

I have been riding well but I want to take it step by step and see how things go and hopefully the success will go on. I will go back home and ride in England too and see what comes up there. So the plan is just to take it step by step really,” he said. If that’s the plan so be it!

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07 Aug 2018
Issue Number: Issue 647
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Dubai playing a key role in British racing, says Jockey Club boss
Busybody Tadhg looks to scale mountains after climbing Hills
Nass’ trial and error style seems to be working wonders for him
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