Former Army officer turned trainer loses two stone to ride in prestigious race

  • Horse & Hound is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy. Learn more
  • Former Army officer Billy Aprahamian has dropped two stone to return to the saddle for another tilt at a prestigious race he won in 2018.

    Billy, now a licensed trainer, will partner the Ben Pauling-trained Nestor Park in the Grand Military Gold Cup, sponsored by Army Sport, at Sandown tomorrow (26 January).

    The prospect of shelling out for a new wardrobe was the driving force behind his decision to get back on board, and the historic race a perfect target.

    The 33-year-old, who spent time in Belize and Thailand during his time as a lieutenant with the Irish Guards, won the 2018 edition aboard Baden for his former boss, Nicky Henderson. He last rode in the race in 2019, when he rode Carlos Du Fruitier for Mr Pauling.

    “I haven’t ridden in it again as my mind has been focused elsewhere,” said Billy, who trains from his Northamptonshire base.

    “To sit on Nestor Park and school him is pretty special, let alone going to ride him around Sandown Park, so I’m pretty excited.

    “He schooled very well on Monday, but I think he is teaching me. He is a bonny little thing that is very forward going. He is a nice compact horse.

    “If you look back through his form he is always there or thereabouts. He has been running in big handicaps this season and this is a completely different race.

    “They will go that bit slower here and he should travel and jump confidently around there.”

    Billy will also ride Nashville Nipper for Toby Lawes in the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle tomorrow.

    “I’ve been riding out again since my horses started coming back in, around July time,” he said.

    “I was getting too big for my clothes and I needed something to incentivise me to get back into them as I can’t afford new ones!

    “I was 13st 9lbs in August so to get fit and ride again is great. It feels like I’m having my first point-to-point ride again.

    “I’m down to 11st 5lbs now, but the weight loss hasn’t been too bad really because I thought about this race a long way in advance. I changed a few habits and here we are. I think I’m more excited for this race [the Grand Military Gold Cup] than ever before.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits. 

    You may like...