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An Interview with Top Flat Jockey Kieran Shoemark

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Being a fan of quality dining doesn’t seem an obvious choice for a leading Flat jockey but Kieran Shoemark is a foodie, putting Indian and Japanese cuisine at the top of his list. It’s even more ironic his family business lies in the iconic of all British grub, a fish ‘n’ chip shop called Greedy’s.

Kieran, 27, grew up in Stow-on-the-Wolds in the heart of the Cotswolds and is the third generation of the Shoemark family to have graced weighing rooms around the country. Elder brother Conor rode over jumps and before that, his father Ian and Grandfather Bill were jump jockeys, so were his Great-uncles so racing was ‘definitely in the blood’ . Yet, all of the racing blood was from the National Hunt side of the sport. Kieran admits that he’s of a ‘lighter frame’ than his brother and easily maintained his weight to start off on the Flat.

In a decade in the saddle, he narrowly missed out on winning an Apprentice Championship but never looked backwards, winning big races as a young jockey, including the 2018 Bengough Stakes for his long-term boss Roger Charlton, as well as the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot on Atty Persse for Godolphin. In 2019, he teamed up with former Love Island star Chris Hughes to highlight Movember and men’s mental health and has been candidly honest about his own struggles.

After this promising career threatened to be derailed by inner turmoil, Kieran fought back to secure his first Grade 1 on Lady Bowthorpe when winning the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in 2021. This was made an extra memorable day as it was trainer Willie Jarvis’ first Grade 1 victory in twenty-four years. Then in 2022, Kieran won the Prix du Moulin on Dreamloper for Ed Walker. He is brave, talented and deserves every success.

Now living in Chilton Foliat in Wiltshire, Kieran goes out with Sophie Kavanagh. Even though Sophie’s parents own a stud in Kildare, they met through mutual friends, though have never worked together.

winning on Atty Persse at Royal Ascot

Photo Credit: PA Images

Did you have a horsey childhood? I had more a horsey childhood than my siblings but none of us ever had our own horses and ponies. We loaned a pony from some friends, the Pinchins whose daughter Lilly now rides over jumps, and we used to do a little bit of competing. From about the age of twelve, I started riding lessons but it was only vaguely horsey.

How did you get into racing? My family had all been in racing and for as long as I knew I always wanted to be a jockey. I went down the Flat route because that’s how my dad started – in fact, he actually started at Ian Balding’s thirty years before I went to Andrew Balding’s

My dad sorted me out my first proper job with horses. I spent my summers at a pre-training yard in Rissington called Bobble Barn, run by Dawson Lees and he used to ride on the Flat. Obviously growing up in the Cotswolds, it's National Hunt everywhere but it was Dawson who encouraged me to become a Flat jockey.

What trainers have you worked for an in which roles? When I was fifteen, I used to ride out at Richard Phillips’ in Adlestrop, then went to Dawson's pre-training yard and then I went to Andrew Balding’s for three years. I had a couple of winters in Australia race-riding and, as a three-pound claimer, I went to Roger Charlton's and rode out my claim. I started riding the majority of Roger Charlton 's horses and then I went to Charlie Hills’, which is where I still ride out now.

Where have you ridden in races abroad? I've ridden in the USA, Australia, Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden and most of the Far East like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi – amongst others.

Photo Credit: TGS Photo REX Shutterstock

Favourite racecourse: Ascot.

Favourite international racecourse: Flemington, Australia.

Least favourite racecourse: There (Kieran laughs) are lots – somewhere like Brighton down South and most of them up north!

What have been your best day in racing so far? Riding my first Grade 1 winner on Lady Bowthorpe at Goodwood. It was an incredible day and it's one of my favourite tracks after Ascot.

What race would you most like to ride the winner of? It's so easy to say the Derby so I'll be a little bit different and say the l’Arc de Triomphe.

Generally, what does racing do well? It opens its doors to all walks of life.

Where could improvements be made? Prize money.

What are your hopes and for the future? To ride as many Group 1 winners as possible – it’s as simple as that.

If you weren't a jockey, what would be your dream job? A chef.

What's your ideal day off? Eating nice food – going to nice restaurants, which would be my hobby.

Favourite holiday destination: Cape Town, South Africa.

Favourite restaurant: Buddha Khan In New York – it sounds very extravagant, which I'm really not really but it's my most favourite place to eat.

Favourite snack: I'm a chocolate addict so a Share bag of Maltesers but I don't share.

Favourite music: Bands like Oasis.

Favourite movie: Notting Hill but I nearly said The Sound of Music, which I love the soundtrack of!

Kieran winning on Lady Bowthorpe at Glorious Goodwood

Photo Credit: Dominic James/Horses In Training

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