Meet the 2020 Derby-winning jockey: a former champion pony rider with a first-class degree to boot

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  • Emmet McNamara, 30, has been grinding away for many years as a jockey. Dedicated to riding out each morning for top trainer Aidan O’Brien, his patience paid off when he won this year’s Investec Derby at Epsom on a 25/1 chance.

    Where it all began

    Emmet McNamara was born on 9 January 1990 and grew up in Limerick, Ireland. His father, Eric, is a racehorse trainer so racing has always been in his blood.

    Champion pony rider

    Like many top Irish jockeys, Emmet learnt his trade on the pony racing circuit in Ireland and he was the champion rider for two years running. In his final season pony racing, he broke the most-winning record by riding to 65 victories.

    Apprentice success

    Having taken out a professional apprentice jockey licence, Emmet’s first win in the saddle came aboard Prince Livius for trainer Tom Hogan at Tipperary on 30 August 2007.

    Having gone on to ride 26 winners, he was crowned champion apprentice jockey at the end of the 2008 season.

    Riding out for O’Brien

    His first significant victory in the saddle came partnering the Aidan O’Brien-trained Port Douglas in the Group Two Beresford Stakes at The Curragh in 2015.

    He has been dedicated to riding out for the leading Irish trainer each morning. In his own words: “Things are very tough in Ireland in terms of getting rides, but I am at Aidan’s every morning of the week, so I am not going here, there and everywhere to ride out.”

    A star pupil

    Emmet has also enjoyed success away from the racecourse. In 2018, he gained a first-class honours degree in accounting and finance at Dublin’s Griffith College.

    His career high

    Emmet’s greatest day riding came recently in the Group One Investec Derby at Epsom (4 July) when he produced a brave ride on the Aidan O’Brien-trained outsider Serpentine. He made all the running on the 25/1 chance to come home 5½ lengths clear of their nearest rivals and claim the £283,550 prize-pot for connections.

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    Other top notches

    The jockey has achieved Group Three and Listed winners in the past as well. He won the Group Three Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes on the Aidan O’Brien-trained Douglas Macarthur in 2017.

    His Listed winners include Fiery Lad (Carlingford Stakes in 2008), Mister Tee (Star Appeal Stakes in 2009) and Duchess Of Foxland (Hurry Harriet Stakes in 2010). While major handicap successes came on Tis Mighty in the Irish Cambridgeshire in 2008 and on Duchess Of Foxland in the Madrid Handicap two years later.

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