Brendan Powell has one of the top jobs in jumps racing, as stable jockey for Gold Cup-winning trainer Colin Tizzard, but had to work hard to earn his place after a few seasons in the wilderness.
The 26-year-old enjoyed early success with the Tizzard team, enjoying a Cheltenham Festival winner in just his third year on the track with Golden Chieftain’s victory in the 2013 JLT Specialty Handicap Chase.
Powell, the son of former leading jumps jockey Brendan Powell Sr, might have been forgiven for thinking it would all come easy as he continued to notch up winners, landing no less than 29 in six successive seasons.
But, a dry spell soon followed – 14 winners in the 2017/18 campaign and just nine in 2018/19.
By the time the Cheltenham Festival rolled around in March 2020, Powell had gone over four years without a Listed or Graded victory, but a new connection in the shape of trainer David Bridgwater shot Powell back into the headlines as The Conditional took the Grade Three Ultima Handicap Chase.
Speaking on Sky Sports Racing’s Get In programme, Powell said: “Throwing your toys out the pram and getting chippy doesn’t benefit you or anyone else. You’ve just got to get on with it.
“Thankfully, I’d made a few contacts while I was at Colin’s but I had to really start again. I was going racing for a couple of seasons and riding a lot of no-hopers.
“I spoke to Harry Derham [Paul Nicholls’ assistant trainer] and went to ride out there because I felt if I wasn’t riding good horses on the racecourse then I don’t want to lose it when I get on the good ones on track.
“Michael Scudamore [trainer] was very good and Lynne Maclennan [owner] asked me to ride a lot of their horses. David Bridgwater too, I was riding a lot for him and along came The Conditional.
“After the Cheltenham Festival winner and a few Saturday winners I kind of got my name back out there again.”
Brendan Powell career stats
JPR One could take Betfair Hurdle ‘gamble’
Powell revealed the Tizzard team are considering a shot at Newbury’s valuable handicap next month, the Betfair Hurdle, for exciting novice JPR One.
The five-year-old, owned by John Romans, has won two of his three starts and finished a close second behind Jamie Snowden’s Datsalrightgino at Cheltenham.
“He’s an absolute gentleman [John Romans] and he deserves all the success he gets,” Powell said. “They put a lot into it and he’s so enthusiastic and they have a few nice older horses and a couple good younger ones as well.
“[Jpr One] is a lovely horse. They actually dropped him two pounds, I think before he won at Taunton.
“It’s a possibility [the Betfair Hurdle]. If he’s the horse that we hoped he would be, he probably wouldn’t be running off 129 or 131 in the future.
“He’s inexperienced but sometimes you’ve just got to take the gamble.”
Lostintranslation on target for Cheltenham Gold Cup
One of two Grade Two winners for Powell this season, 1965 Chase victor Lostintranslation will be aimed at a return to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, having finished a close third in the race two years ago.
Powell feels the ground conditions went against the now 10-year-old when coming home a distant fifth in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
“He ran well for a long way at Kempton,” Powell said. “I think now he’s got a bit older he’s got a bit more ground dependant.
“The ground was a bit soft that day and he’s probably a horse that likes to get a breather in during a race.
“The King George at Kempton meant the foot was always on the gas and there’s no let up.
“He’s operated around Cheltenham well before though and that’ll be his next target.”