With family roots connected to the seaside arcade entertainment scene, it is fair to say jockey Louis Steward knows when to take a gamble.
Looking back at his results from the 2014 Flat season, it goes without saying his decision to join the riding ranks – as opposed to being in the family business – has well and truly been a punt that has so far reaped plenty of rewards.
As is the case in most seasons, new faces emerged from the weighing room during the 2014 Flat campaign, with the 19-year-old – whose family own the Pink Palace arcade in Scratby – sitting near the top of that list alongside Cam Hardie and Jack Garritty.
“It has been a good season and I definitely didn’t expect to do as well as I did,” said Steward. “I don’t set aims and goals as I take each ride as it comes and grab every opportunity with both hands.
“When you have nice winners it gives you great confidence and you ride with a lot less pressure on you as everything goes to plan.”
Although having caught the eye when booting home winners steadily throughout the season, it was the Newmarket-based jockey’s winning ride aboard the Johnny Murtagh-trained Mutual Regard in the Betfred Ebor up at York in August that saw him shoot to prominence and thrust him into the eye of the general public.
“To get the ride aboard Mutual Regard was one thing, but to win it was great,” said Steward. “It’s hard to take everything in when it happens as everything happens so fast you just go with the flow.
“It takes a couple of days to actually put in perspective what you have achieved.”
While for some his age one winner in such a prolific race would be enough to make a good season a great one, more good fortune was to come his way later in the year when steering the Marcus Tregoning-trained Bronze Angel to a second Betfred Cambridgeshire and victory in the Balmoral Handicap on QIPCO Champions’ Day at Ascot.
“Bronze Angel has been amazing this year and you could not have asked much more from him,” said Steward. “I was lucky to get on him and it was a case of being in the right place at the right time.
“Without these two horses I would not have had the great season I did.
“Out of all the victories achieved on the two horses, I would say that winning the Ebor was the more special one as it was the first real big winner I had. It meant a lot as at the time I just didn’t realise how big it was until I received all the press attention.”
Behind every rider there is often a team in the background that only those in question know how important they are and for Steward – who hails from Great Yarmouth – he is no different.
Family, a former Classic winning jockey – who he lives with in town – and his all-important agent, have played big roles in his meteoric rise.
“Paul Clarke my agent has been tremendous,” said Steward. “He is a lovely guy who works hard to get me on the best horses when he can.
“He is also the agent of Andrea Atzeni, so he can’t be doing a bad job.
“I live with Phillip Robinson. He is my mentor and he plays a big part in it all.
“He really has been the main man and has been such a great mentor.
“He is so intelligent racing wise and is such a big help.
“I could not thank him enough and he is definitely someone I look up to.
“My granddad Eric (Steward) is the person I use to go racing with when I was younger and he is very supportive and helped get me into it.
“He even tries to tell what I need to do on occasions.
“Without people like that behind you it is hard to get where I am today.”
While this season may now be over, the hard work and graft for Steward – who is apprentice to town trainer Michael Bell – will continue over the winter months not on home shores around the country’s four, soon to be five, all-weather tracks but in those of sunnier climes after jetting out to Dubai earlier this month.
“I am going to go out there and ride work in the mornings for Godolphin so it is very much a working holiday,” said Steward. “Although nothing is set in concrete, hopefully something will come out of it.”