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I left school at 14, made racing history at 16 and won over £1million aged 19


IN the space of just five years, teenage sensation James Bowen has achieved more than many jockeys achieve in a lifetime.

The 19-year-old has risen to the top at a stratospheric rate and his sharp rise doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

James Bowen shows his skills with a great sit at Cheltenham


James Bowen shows his skills with a great sit at CheltenhamCredit: PA

Being the brother of the champion jockey-elect (barring a miracle), James has had competition from an early age.

He started riding pony racing officials at the age of nine, which is where he was bitten by the bug.

James left school at 14 to be homeschooled alongside his brother Sean at his dad Peter’s Yet-Y-Rhug stables.

He said: “I didn’t really get into school much on Tuesdays and Fridays before I left anyway because they were work [gallops] mornings.

“Sean had a few lessons, but they weren’t much use and very expensive. In two years, I never had a single lesson. I think they knew we were doing something and not just sitting at home on an Xbox.

“Dad always said you don’t need A-levels to ride horses.”

The track was where James excelled and from fewer than 150 rides, he rode 90 winners, before switching to the point-to-point field at 16.

His first big winner came less than a year after turning professional, winning the Welsh Grand National on Raz De Maree.

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At the time, Bowen said: “To win this, first season riding, it’s amazing. You grow up watching these races, don’t you?

“If you’d told me I was going to win the Welsh Grand National a year ago, I’d never have believed you because I was still pony racing then.”

He was based with Nicky Henderson as a conditional jockey and remains with the top trainer to this day.

Henderson has always referred to Bowen as “top class” and he’s proved as much this season.

With Nico de Boinville injured, Bowen has stepped up to the plate at Seven Barrows.

His first Grade 1 winner came on Boxing Day, when he rode Jango Baie to win the Formby Novices Hurdle.

In the last five seasons alone, Bowen has earned in excess of £2.8million in prize money.

His brother might be leading the jockeys championship this season, but James is sure to be a thorn in his side for years to come.


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