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A lorry driver has taken the unusual decision to retrain as a jockey.

Martin Allan, 23, from Stockton-on-Tees, chose to give up his job as an HGV driver and follow in the footsteps of his brother, jockey David Allan, with the help of employment and skills experts Working Links.

Working Links, a back-to-work organisation, funded Martin’s training and supplied race equipment in readiness for his new career. The company also supported him through a 12-week residential programme at the Northern Racing College by paying for essentials.

Martin has surprised everyone with his natural ability, especailly as he’d never ridden before.

“I couldn’t even make a horse walk when I first started,” said Martin. “It’s been intense, but it was good being thrown in at the deep end.

“Everyone else on my course had been around horses and worked at yards, but at least I didn’t have any bad habits to fix.”

Martin is now working for trainer Colin Teague in Co Durham. “Martin is a natural in the saddle and a good horseman. We have high hopes for him and it is amazing what he has achieved in this short period of time,” said Mr Teague.

Martin added: “I’ve passed all my training, got my licence and am ready to go.

“When I was driving for a living, I used to do a couple of days here and there but now I’m working Monday to Saturday and I’m loving it. Being a jockey is much more fulfilling and rewarding than driving lorries, plus there’s a chance to really go somewhere.

At the moment Martin is concentrating on the Flat, but hopes to go over jumps in the future too.

Simon Smith from Working Links said: “When Martin said he wanted to be a jockey I thought, ‘This doesn’t happen every day’. Martin was consistently getting rave reviews and the feedback was that he would make a good jockey one day.”