Top apprentice Marco Ghiani savouring super summer

Horse Racing

Rider registered his first Royal Ascot success, plus a Listed win in recent weeks.

Life in 2021 just keeps getting better and better for Marco Ghiani.

This is proving to be a landmark year for the 22-year-old Italian, who is setting a strong pace in the race to be champion apprentice.

Not only has he ridden out his claim, but he had his first Royal Ascot winner this summer on Real World and opened his Listed account on the same horse at Newbury.

His first ever treble at Newmarket on Saturday extended his advantage over closest pursuer Mark Crehan to 18.

“Yes it’s going really well. I’m ahead in the apprentice title race, but there’s a long way to go,” he said.

“Mark has obviously now got a ban for 28 days so it gives me a good chance to get a bit further clear, but you never know anything could happen.

“I could break a leg or get banned for a long time. I’ve just got to try to keep going how I am.”

Ghiani may only be 22 and not from a racing background, but he has been driven to be a jockey since the age of 14 and sat on a racehorse for the first time at 15.

He was noticed by Dario Vargiu, multiple champion jockey in Italy, who contacted him and encouraged him to take the route his heart was telling him.

“I was riding in the Sartiglia in Sardinia. It was a carnival thing with the horses. The champion jockey in Italy texted me and it went from there,” said Ghiani.

He took the brave decision to leave home in Sardinia and enrolled at the British Racing School at 16 and joined Luca Cumani’s stable in Newmarket.

 Marco Ghiani spent his formative years with Luca Cumani
Marco Ghiani spent his formative years with Luca Cumani (Nigel French/PA)

He said: “I was with Luca Cumani for three and a half years. He was helpful and it was exciting.”

Ghiani followed in the footsteps of Frankie Dettori, who was mentored by Cumani, while Andrea Atzeni is a fellow Sardinian who has made his mark in racing here and abroad.

After Cumani retired in October 2018, Ghiani rode out for another Newmarket trainer Stuart Williams.

“He wanted someone to ride out and then I started to ride for him,” he said.

Ghiani had his first ride in June 2018 and his first winner in March the following year. He rode out his claim on July 1 on Surprise Picture for trainer Hugo Palmer at Yarmouth.

The horse who thrust him into the limelight was Real World when the pair took the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot.

“It was just amazing. I can’t describe it,” he said.

Then earlier this month Ghiani gained his first Pattern-race success on the Saeed bin Suroor-trained four-year-old in the bet365 Steventon Stakes at Newbury.

“As soon as he saw daylight he just took off. He is some horse,” he said.

“Riding for Saeed bin Suroor is a good experience and everything. I’m quite grateful.

Marco Ghiani drives Real World (blue) to victory in the Steventon Stakes at Newbury
Marco Ghiani drives Real World (blue) to victory in the Steventon Stakes at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“It’s the Goodwood Festival so hopefully I can get a winner next week.”

Ghiani has also had plenty to celebrate on a personal front with his partner Brooke Brown giving birth to a boy, Louis, in May.

The baby was just 15 days old when he was taken to his first race meeting at Brighton and Ghiani promptly rode a double to mark the occasion.

“It has changed my life a lot. I feel more grown up quite a lot,” he said.

Being a jockey can involve long hours away from home but Ghiani is taking that in is stride.

“I get up at about five o’clock and I can be late getting home to Newmarket. Hopefully I can keep going from strength to strength,” he said.

**Marco Ghiani is currently in first place in the 2021 Apprentice Jockeys’ Championship. For more info please visit

Follow us on Twitter racing365dotcom and like our Facebook page.