Buoyant Tudhope crowned Cock O’ The North jockey for the first time

Jockey Danny Tudhope after he was crowned Cock O' The North at Doncaster on Saturday.
Jockey Danny Tudhope after he was crowned Cock O' The North at Doncaster on Saturday.

There are those who reckon Doncaster’s November Handicap meeting, which wrapped up a magnificent 2017 Flat season on Saturday, has lost its pizzazz.

But try telling that to jockey Danny Tudhope. For the day was one of the memorable of his career as he was crowned Cock O’ The North for the first time after his best-ever season.

Lord Glitters gives Danny Tudhope his biggest win of the UK season on Qipco Champions Day at Ascot. (PHOTO BY: Megan Ridgwell).

Lord Glitters gives Danny Tudhope his biggest win of the UK season on Qipco Champions Day at Ascot. (PHOTO BY: Megan Ridgwell).

The Cock O’ The North competition is for riders based in the North and covers the number of UK winners during the entire Flat campaign, from Lincoln Handicap Day, which was at Doncaster on Saturday, April 1, to last Saturday, back at Town Moor.

The Yorkshire-based Tudhope, who is 31, started as he meant to go on, landing the Lincoln on BRAVERY, and proceeded to enjoy a terrific season that yielded 106 winners.

A thrilling battle involving fellow jockeys PJ McDonald and veteran Joe Fanning saw the Cock O’ The North title go to the wire. But Tudhope eventually claimed victory, and prize money worth £2,500, by finishing six winners clear of McDonald and nine clear of Fanning.

On being presented with the traditional Cock O’ The North winners’ cap at Donny, Tudhope said he was delighted to be honoured with the award.

“I’ve had a fantastic season with a lot of winners, and good winners at that,” he said. “David O’Meara’s horses have been running very well this year, and I’ve had a huge amount of support from trainers such as William Haggas and Michael Bell.

“The Cock O’ The North competition has been very competitive this year. Joe Fanning has won it the last few years, so it’s great to take the title for the first time. Along with finishing fourth in the Stobart Flat Jockeys’ Championship, I couldn’t have asked for a better season.”

Tudhope has won a total of £1,543,619 worth of prize money this year, with his biggest success coming on Lord Glitters in the £155,000 Balmoral Handicap on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot last month.

Not far behind was his surprise victory on the seasoned sprinter OUT DO in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot. But arguably the year’s highlight for Tudhope came in three races outside the UK, which didn’t count towards the Cock O’ The North title. They were all on O’Meara’s hardy campaigner SUEDOIS, who was a revelation when stepped up to 1m. He won a Grade Two prize at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend, landed the Grade One Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in the USA and was then a highly respectable fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar.

Throughout 2017, Tudhope’s UK strike rate is running at a very creditable 16 per cent, and if you had put £1 on all of his mounts, you’d be showing a small profit of £2.32. As well as his winners, he has booted home 100 seconds, 84 thirds and 74 fourths.

The Cock O’ The North title is thought to have originated from Alexander Gordon, the 4th Duke of Gordon (1743-1827), who was known by that name. It is the traditional epithet attached to the head of the Clan Gordon.

It is not known when the title first entered racing parlance, but it has been used for many decades now. Edward Hide won the Cock O’ The North title no fewer than 16 times, while Kevin Darley picked up the famous cap ten times and Mark Birch on seven occasions.