Walter Swinburn, who has died at 55, will be forever remembered as the 19-year-old who guided the mighty Shergar to victory in the 1981 Derby. We look back at other riders who shot to prominence in similar circumstances while still in their teenage years.

 

Fred Archer

Although Archer was 20 when he won the first of five Derbys in 1877, by then he had already ridden winners of the 1,000 Guineas, 2,000 Guineas and Oaks while his first major success had been in the Cesarewitch when he was only 15. He would win 21 Classics and was champion jockey 13 times in a row, starting at the age of 17, before he took his own life at 29.

 

Lester Piggott

The man widely regarded as the greatest of them all incredibly started winning races before even reaching his teens, but his true breakthrough came in 1954 when, at the age of 18, he steered 33-1 shot Never Say Die to success in the Derby for trainer Joe Lawson. Piggott was pushing 60 by the time he retired from the saddle in 1995.

 

Steve Cauthen

Cauthen became the youngest rider to win the US Triple Crown in 1978 on Affirmed, the pair teaming up to win the Kentucky Derby just five days after the jockey's 18th birthday. Cauthen famously struggled to make the low weights required in the States, so later came to ride in Britain for Henry Cecil, where one of the many British jockeys he is said to have inspired was a young Walter Swinburn.

 

Joseph O'Brien

There was nearly a Triple Crown-winning teenager in Britain in 2012, when Camelot, ridden by 19-year-old Joseph O'Brien, won the 2,000 Guineas and Derby in emphatic style. The pair went off 2-5 for the St Leger, but were beaten by Encke, one of the horses who would later be implicated in the doping scandal that brought down trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni. O'Brien would ride a second Derby winner, Australia, at the ripe old age of 21 and, still only 23, is already a Group 1-winning trainer on the Flat.

 

Mickael Barzalona

The image of the then 19-year-old Barzalona standing bolt upright in the irons on Pour Moi as the pair crossed the line all of a head in front of Treasure Beach in the 2011 Derby has come to be one of the defining pictures of youthful exuberance in sport. Although that win came for Coolmore, Barzalona has spent most of his time since riding for Godolphin and, after a hit-and-miss spell in Britain, is now their principal jockey in France. He has picked up a generous handful of Group 1 successes since, but to now he is still defined by that stunning breakthrough triumph.

 

 

 

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