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She may be able to ride at 7st 10lb, but Saffie Osborne is certainly no lightweight when it comes to horse racing.
The 19-year-old has already showed in spades that she is as tough as old boots and goes into Glorious Goodwood week as one of the sport’s biggest talents.
In her first season in 2020, Saffie was seriously injured in a fall at Windsor, which left her with seven broken ribs, a broken arm, dislocated elbow, wrist and a punctured lung.
That might discourage any aspiring sportsperson, but not this determined teenager.
If anything, she believes she has prospered – and taken her race-riding to a new level.
“I’m now so much stronger and fitter than I was before,” she said.
“I can’t thank the staff at Oaksey House enough for how they have helped me. They get you out of bed and encourage you to do something every day rather than sitting there thinking about what you are missing out on.
“The fall was a blessing in disguise really.
“As I recovered and focused on my fitness, it was like a footballer doing pre-season training.”
Saffie Osborne at Wolverhampton races
After racing to 17 successes and third place in the apprentice championship, including aboard seven-time Goodwood winner Pettochside, Saffie encountered another bump in the road.
Seconds before her horse Peerless was due to break from the stalls in a race live on ITV, it dramatically reared up, giving her no chance of staying in the saddle.
“My foot got stuck in the stirrup and the horse dragged me under the front of them,” she said.
“Thankfully people were quick to help me.
“I had to have my leg stitched up, as I took a massive blow to my calf which swelled up loads.
“It took me quite a while to be able to walk on it again.
“Being off for the last two weeks has put a big dent in my challenge for the championship. I want to ride as many winners as I can – and hopefully there’s still plenty of time.”
Back in business now, Saffie, a multiple eventing youth medallist, won’t be getting any special treatment from her father Jamie, an “overrated jockey, underrated trainer” to use his Twitter bio description.
Saffie Osborne riding Pettochside at Goodwood Racecourse
He will be on her team in the new £2million Racing League, which starts on the third day of Goodwood this week.
Saffie believes if you have natural talent, doors will open if you put in the hard work. “I have three older brothers and dad thinks I’m the fourth son,” Saffie laughs. “So there’s no space for softness in my house. I spent my childhood being my brothers’ target in goal.
“I have always been brave and ballsy I would say.
“Between Hollie Doyle and Rachael Blackmore, they prove if you’re good enough you get the opportunities.”
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That she is so thick-skinned has been an advantage to Saffie, recently the receiver of some vile social media abuse after her horse was beaten in a close finish. Dad Jamie contacted police and called for racing chiefs to take offenders to task.
So onwards to Goodwood, where one of her rides is You’re Hired in the Signature Apprentice Handicap on Saturday.
Just like Pettochside, a real favourite with racegoers on the Sussex Downs, her mount is also a member of the older brigade.
“I won on You’re Hired at Bath a month ago., I hadn’t ridden him before so we clicked straight away,” she said. “He’s a great horse, he knows more about the game than many of us.”
★ For more information about the Qatar Goodwood Festival, head to greatbritishracing.com