Sport Horse Racing

Monday 11 December 2017

Where are they now?


(Former jockey)

Former Gold Cup and Grand National winner Jim Culloty became a jockey by accident. At a young age he developed a big interest in horses and in order to learn all he could about them he started riding them and from there ended up a jockey.

Culloty showed enormous talent from the start. His record both as an amateur and a professional is extremely impressive. He modelled himself on Richard Dunwoody but feels that he didn't end up being much like him.

His first race was in a hunter chase at Exeter in May 1993 and his first winner came at the same course the following January. In the next two years he rode another three winners and in the 1996 season he rode a total of 44 winners before deciding to turn professional.

His career lasted almost a decade, during which he rode a total of 394 winners.

In 2002, he won the Grand National on Bindaree but the Kerryman is best known for his partnership with Best Mate, the horse owned by Jim Lewis and trained by Henrietta Knight.

It all started in November 1999 when Culloty rode Best Mate to a bumper win at the Cheltenham Open meeting. From there the pair went on to win three consecutive Gold Cups together, in 2002, 2003 and 2004, matching the record of Arkle. They also won the Grade One Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown and the 2003 Ericsson Chase.

"We just clicked," says Culloty. "He just suited my style of riding and I suited his style of running and we just got on. It ended up a great match."

Culloty counts the Gold Cup wins as his favourite memories along with riding 13 winners in one week as an amateur during the 1996 season, a feat that would be almost an impossibility in the racing world today.

Best Mate suffered a fatal heart attack in 2005 while being ridden by Paul Carberry and Culloty retired from race-riding soon after. For him retiring was a hard decision but once taken he never looked back.

He now lives in Co Cork where he is a trainer. He runs the JH Culloty racing stables at Mount Corbitt House in Churchtown. It's a 24/7 job he says but one he enjoys although he admits he has little time for anything else.

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