Teenage horse-rider Lauren Steade, of Eckington, has realised her dream to become a jockey -- and to follow in the footsteps of her grandad.
Jack Steade rode over fences and hurdles as a jumps jockey, based in Middleham, north Yorkshire, many years ago. Now 18-year-old Lauren, nicknamed ‘Little Loz’, has had her first rides in competitive races on the Flat after joining the well-known Middleham yard of trainer Micky Hammond.
“She has made giant strides with her riding over the past 12 months, probably more than any rider we’ve ever had here” enthused Hammond. “She took out her apprentice’s licence and, exactly a year to the day she started working for us, she fulfilled her ambition when she had her first ride in an apprentices’ handicap at Pontefract in April.”
Lauren finished fourth in the race on the seven-year-old chestnut gelding Shalamzar, who was bred by the Aga Khan but is now trained by Hammond. She has gone on to have three more rides this season aboard the former high-class sprinter, Pabusar, also trained by Hammond, finishing eighth at Ripon, sixth at Hamilton and tenth at Catterick. Now Lauren is looking forward to more openings and the day she steers home her first winner.
Diminutive Lauren, who went to Eckington Comprehensive School, launched her racing career by attending the renowned Northern Racing College at Doncaster, where she gained the qualifications she needed to seek work in a racing stable.
Her first big break came when the college found her a placement at the yard of Tom Tate, based in Tadcaster, near York, which meant she had to leave home and live in a caravan on the premises.
“This was a big test for her because it came during the winter,” say her parents, Paul and Julie. “But she feels that by sticking through some pretty harsh times and staying the course, she knew her destiny lay within the racing industry.”
To enhance her chances of success, Lauren picked up more qualifications. The Northern Racing College also continued to monitor her progress, and when her assessor presented her with the opportunity to join Hammond, one of Yorkshire’s premier trainers, she knew she couldn’t turn it down.
“Lauren says that Micky and his team have consistently pushed her limits of riding, and they are more than happy with her progress at the yard,” say Paul and Julie. “We are very proud of her achievements, especially as it is a predominantly male-based environment.”
Hammond, who was a successful jumps jockey, began his training career in 1990 and has a modern 45-box yard at Oakwood Stables. He says ‘Little Loz’ has fitted in well with his “experienced, confident, friendly and hard-working team” and fears he would only lose her to TV shows, ‘The X Factor’ or ‘Britain’s Got Talent’!
“She’s also a good singer, so we hope to keep hold of her, even if Simon Cowell comes calling!” he joked.