Stars in the making – 3 up-and-coming riders for 2021

Laura Pearson Furzig

2020 saw the meteoric rise of Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand, who took the racing world by storm. Developing into fan favourites, both jockeys enjoyed Grade 1 success and victories on British Champions Day. Marquand also took his maiden classic in the form of the St Leger, while Doyle became the first female jockey to ride five winners on the same card.

With 2021 under way, there is another 365 days for a new class of rising stars to capture the attention of the racing public. After thinking long and hard, we’ve come up with three jockeys we believe are set for a big year.

They’re almost certain to feature in our horse racing tips throughout the year too! Our NAP and Accumulator tips are on site now, with daily greyhound selections also available.

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Darragh O’Keeffe

Born on March 21st, Darragh O’Keeffe hails from Cork and bagged his first winner on William Du Berlais for Enda Bolger back in July 2018. It’s been a sharp upward curve for him since, with his name reaching the big-time over Christmas.

Associated with both Bolger and Henry De Bromhead to name a few, he rode out his claim when winning the Cork National on The Gatechecker in November 2019. Champion Conditional for the 2019/20 season, he landed the title with 45 winners and has continued to improve at a rapid rate.

Winning his first graded contest in the form of the Grade 3 Kerry Group Stayers Novice Hurdle on Sayce Gold in early December, he enjoyed his maiden ITV winner in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup on Chatham Street Lad just six days later. His first top level success quickly followed, delivering A Plus Tard to perfection to land the Savills Chase.

O’Keeffe can look forward to some big rides in 2021, including the potential of a Gold Cup date with A Plus Tard. The sky is seemingly the limit for this rising star.


Laura Pearson

It’s been a meteoric rise for Laura Pearson, who has caught everyone’s attention this winter with some masterful rides. Her first winner came back in October 2018, where she rode the John Ryan-trained Plucky Dip to victory at Catterick.

It was December 2020, however, where her stock began a dramatic rise. Riding a total of 11 winners in Britain during that month, it equated to a remarkable strike-rate of 30% for the seven-pound claimer.

With 37 rides in December alone, it’s clear that trainers are standing up and paying close attention to her. At present, her seven-pound claim is tantamount to theft, given the confidence she’s riding with.

If you don’t believe us, then watch her ride on Yorkshire Pirlo. We can only imagine that Jamie Spencer was taking notes.


Marco Ghiani

Riding a double at Lingfield just yesterday, Marco Ghiani has done nothing but improve in the last year. From his last ten rides, he’s ridden seven winners, which tells you all you need to know about the quality of his riding.

Securing his first winner aboard the Stuart Williams’ trained Lunar Deity back in March 2019, he rode 19 winners in his 2020 campaign. Such is his improvement, that he already has 6 winners in 2021, nearly 33% of his entire 2020 total.

Riding for a plethora of yards, he currently has a five-pound claim. That is unlikely to last, however, and you can expect his stock to continue rising through 2021. If you fancy a horse, and Ghiani is riding it, the cause for optimism is through the ceiling.


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