Racing: McGlone resumes his wait in the wings: Back to a gruelling schedule for a rider whose has just seen his big break vanish. Greg Wood reports

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The Independent Online
'THE TOP boys look for winners. The rest of us, 99 per cent of jockeys, look for rides first and if there's a winner among them, brilliant,' Tony McGlone said at Folkestone on Tuesday. 'You're looking for the breaks, and hoping that they'll come.' Then, smiling, he added: 'And go . . . '

McGlone's good humour did him credit. He had just learned that the chance he had waited 14 years for, promotion to succeed Willie Ryan as stable jockey to Henry Cecil, was in jeopardy. Ryan, due to leave for a new career in Hong Kong next month, had changed his mind, and wanted his old job back.

Yesterday, Cecil confirmed that McGlone's career as his stable jockey was over before it had started. 'It was originally a spur of the moment decision by Willie to go to Hong Kong,' the trainer said. 'He has been with me for nine years so if he now wants to stay then he can continue with me. It is disappointing for Tony because he deserved the break. I would like to give him more rides than I do and, fingers crossed, I still can.'

Not, though, of the quantity and quality that Ryan will continue to enjoy. Leading owners now retain their own jockeys and the No 1 rider at Warren Place is no longer an automatic favourite for the jockeys' title, but while Pat Eddery or Michael Roberts may be aboard the stable's best performers, they cannot ride at two meetings at once. Even at Beverley or Carlisle, Sheikh Mohammed's silks are a conspicuous seal of approval.

'When you're riding good horses it's like a snowball, it generates interest,' McGlone said. 'When I first started riding for Mr Cecil it gave me credibility, so I was starting to ride for people like John Dunlop too. I've ridden 16 winners so far this year, and I was thinking that when the two-year-olds start running I could end up with 45 or 50 this year, and my best total is 32.'

Now McGlone must return to high- mileage, low-yield reality. His schedule on Tuesday alone is enough to prove that for many jockeys, glamour is something you aspire to, not what you come to expect.

'I've driven 140 miles down to here, then I've got to drive to Leicester after my one ride here for one ride there, then I've got to go back to Newmarket to stop tonight to ride out tomorrow.' Today's assignment is two rides at Chepstow; form students will be astonished if either can even make the frame.

'Last year I never made a penny basically, everything that I earned went on expenses. My profit from today will be very minimal, what with petrol, the wear and tear on your car and then your valet fees. With two rides, unless one of them wins you're really doing it for nothing.'

Or, put another way, for love. 'I've got a picture of me when I was three, on the arm of a settee, riding a finish with a helmet and whip, so it was always in the blood. I never wanted to do anything else, I love riding in races and I love the horses. It sounds a bit mushy, but that's the way it is.'

One honour at Cecil's yard which is McGlone's to keep is the early-morning leg-up on Commander In Chief, the Derby winner. That, and the kudos which attaches to even the second jockey at Warren Place, are good reasons why his frustration at an opportunity lost seems unlikely to develop into resentment or self-pity. There is a solid assurance that patience and persistence will gain their reward.

'I've had a couple of offers to ride in places like Germany,' McGlone said, 'but you can't beat here, not when you're working for somebody like H Cecil. He's the best, and you don't go leaving the best for something else. You stick with it.'

As he swings out on to the gallops for Richard Hannon, another regular employer, early this morning, some sportsmen who show similar application will be teeing off for the Open at Royal St George's.

'The Woosnams and Faldos, they're in hotels, but that's like the top 10 or 15 jockeys,' McGlone said. 'But the rest of them have got a caravan behind them, or they're sharing a room, four of them in a bedsit, trying to make the cut to make their pounds 200, for the privilege of doing it.

'And hopefully one day they break into the big stuff.'

(Photograph omitted)

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