MELISSA JONES SAYS; Wedge shows his competitive edge

First published in Melissa Jones

WALES may have comparatively few racehorse trainers compared to other locations, but its young riders are certainly making up for that.

Nestled away in the pretty mid-Wales village of Llanfarcan is a jockey who has stamped his authority on the horse racing scene.

Adam Wedge is his name – conditional jockey at Evan Williams’ successful yard.

Two weeks ago Wedge won the Richard Davis Award, named after an equally promising rider who lost his life at Southwell in 1996.

This really brings it home. Five minutes of pulsating action on the course could be a matter of life or death.

Despite their tragedy, the Davis family has put a lot into rewarding up and coming talents in the racing industry.

Handing out this award for the top conditional jockey at Midlands tracks to a Welsh jockeys has become familiar to them as Rhys Flint, whose dad John trains in Bridgend, scooped the prize in 2010.

It is one which features on the CVs of many of today’s best jockeys including two who have triumphed in the greatest test of all – the Grand National – in Aidan Coleman and Liam Treadwell..

Wedge accumulated the most points by riding the most first to fourth place finishes from April 2011-12, at Cheltenham, Chepstow, Hereford, Ludlow, Stratford, Towcester, Warwick and Worcester.

To compensate for their initial lack of experience and success in comparison to fully licensed jockeys, young riders claim a weight allowance at the beginning of their career to ride as ‘conditionals’ over jumps.

Wedge, who takes 3lb of a horse’s back, has just over 20 winners to go before he loses his right to this claim. The 22-year-old has made giant strides since being spotted by Williams’ assistant James Tudor on the point-to-point circuit.

Hailing from the Midlands, he excelled at the Albrighton Woodland Pony Club as a youngster and has not looked back since he left school.

Four years of race-riding, for Chris Bealby before he was headhunted to come to Wales, has seen young Wedge realise this career has become his life.

He said: "It’s a hard job but it’s worth it. It’s an adrenaline rush you can’t explain."

His favourite horse is Trooper Clarence, who he has partnered to four successes, and if cajoling others to cross the winning line in front, more opportunities surely beckon.

"I’ve just got to keep everything going," Wedge said. "I love what I do. Nothing comes close to the thrill of riding over jumps and I wouldn’t change it for the world," he added.

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