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Tom hits new heights in the hot seat as Bellamy reflects on successful season in the saddle

Jockey Tom Bellamy has described Newbury as a “gorgeous” racecourse.

Bellamy has saddled four winners at the track as well as 24 placed finishes and admits the West Berkshire course is one of his favourites.

"Newbury's absolutely lovely," he said.

Bellamy in action. Pictures by Nigel Kirby Photography
Bellamy in action. Pictures by Nigel Kirby Photography

"It's a gorgeous track, it's massive with two long bends and two beautiful straights.

"It's pretty straightforward and because of the length of the straights you're always in the race even if you get boxed in.

"It's always very competitive and so it's hard to ride winners but I love coming there."

Bellamy's been involved in racing since a very young age – his father was also a professional jockey while his mother was a successful point-to-pointer and he rode his first competitive race in 2010 aged just 16 aboard Ponchatrain.

The same mount then produced Bellamy's first winner at Sedgefield in May 2011 and he tasted success at Cheltenham later that year when he triumphed aboard Swing Bill in the Amateurs Handicap Chase in November.

"My first winner was at Sedgefield, very glamorous," he said.

"I always believed I could do it but I was so pleased to go out there and prove it to everyone else.

"I actually had a day off school for the race, so that was even better."

Bellamy's biggest career win came six years later when he won the Grade 3 BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in 2017 with Splash of Ginge and announced himself on the big stage.

"It's still my biggest day to date," he said.

"It was all very surreal.

"He was a big priced horse so there wasn't a lot of pressure.

"It came at a great time for me because things weren't going too well but Nigel Twiston-Davies gave me a leg up when he could've easily given the ride to someone more fashionable."

Bellamy in the saddle
Bellamy in the saddle

Bellamy and Twiston-Davies teamed up again to win with Ballymoy at Ascot two years later following a lean period for the jockey in which he managed just 12 winners in the 2018/19 season.

He said: "A very close friend of mine Ryan Hatch was injured and I was struggling for rides so he told me it might be worth showing my face at Nigel's.

"It worked out very well, Nigel's very loyal and he's very good at giving young people chances."

Bellamy admits he came close to giving up towards the end of the season after losing his claim and struggling to make ends meet.

"It's so hard, there's only so many rides to go around," he said.

"I'd lost momentum and I was making just about enough to scrape a living but there were plenty of days where I wanted to go and do something else.

"One of the problems jockeys have is we don't know a lot else, so I didn't have much choice but to stick at it and I'm glad I did."

Bellamy has saddled 44 winners so far this season
Bellamy has saddled 44 winners so far this season

In the three years that followed, Bellamy turned a corner and celebrated surpassing 50 winners last season while saddling 44 so far this campaign.

While he doesn't think the lows of 2018/19 necessarily made him a better jockey, his experiences helped him mature and commit more fully to the sport.

He said: "I'm a much stronger person for it.

"Growing up, I had dreams to be champion jockey and ride all these big winners and then all of a sudden reality hits.

"You learn to really appreciate the importance of nutrition and commitment and I deal with a bad day a bit better now.

"I don't think we'll quite hit the 50 again this year but we seem to be making everybody happy, so it's all good."

Bellamy used to spend his school holidays at Alan King's yard and now finds himself as his number two jockey.

"Kingy gave me a lot at a young age, probably too much," he said.

"There were a few bumps in the road and if I'm honest a few sackable offences, but he's stuck by me and I owe him an awful lot."

Bellamy rode rank outsider Hallwood to a shock win at Carlisle in February but has a refreshingly relaxed perspective on each race.

He said: "You hear a lot of people say that you have to believe you can win every single race, but that's something that I personally don't agree with.

"You've got to be a bit realistic.

"It varies, the Carlisle example, Mark Rimell really fancied the horse and he's a good judge.

"I give 100 per cent on every horse I ride and I always believe we can do something

"If you always rode 100/1 outsiders like they were the favourite then you'd end up pulling most of them up.

"I think being realistic is so important in this game."

Bellamy is now waiting for his next big break to take himself to the next level as he plots a course to the top.

"I'm just looking for that one horse that everyone needs," he said.

"I'm keeping doing what I'm doing and it's all working as I'd like it to."

Bellamy is the FreeBets.com racing ambassador
Bellamy is the FreeBets.com racing ambassador

Tom Bellamy was speaking courtesy of Freebets.com where he works as their Racing Ambassador. Visit Freebets.com https://www.freebets.com/horse-racing/ for the best racing bets and offers.

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