Brendan Powell follows in his father's footsteps

By Cornelius LysaghtBBC horse racing correspondent
Brendan Powell saddled three horses to victory at Plumpton in December
Brendan Powell Jr saddled three horses to victory at Plumpton in December

Jockey Brendan Powell cannot wait for his 17th birthday on 26 January, and nor can his family, friends and fellow riders.

Getting a driving test organised will be high on the agenda for the sought-after teenager, whose father, also Brendan, won the Grand National during a distinguished race-riding career.

Powell Jr's recent run of success has seen him clocking up the miles since Christmas with sorties as far afield as Leicester, Taunton and Plumpton, though, clearly, with others behind the wheel.

However, despite his tender years, he has demonstrated fine driving skills from the saddle, and goes into 2012 tipped to go steadily up the gears, to the very top.

"It's bred into me; it's in my blood, so it's more or less the only route I was going to take," he said.

"It's great fun. Obviously, there are the dangers that come with it, but the rush you get from riding around places like this is unreal.

"It makes you feel like you are flying most of the time; it doesn't get much better."

Brendan Powell junior was not even a twinkle in the eye when his father famously won the 1988 Grand National on Rhyme N'Reason, even though the horse all but fell at Becher's Brook.

In total, the now 50-year-old entered the winner's circle 700 times - Dublin Flyer and Panto Prince were two particular favourites - and earned something of an 'iron man' image, bouncing back from several heavy falls.

Amazingly, he insists it took eight years from his debut ride aged 14 to his first success, in which case his son has certainly hit the ground running.

Two spells in Ireland, competing on a pony racing circuit that is rather more competitive than the growing version in Britain, probably made sure of that.

"Over in Ireland, it's more or less proper racing," said Powell Jr. "You're riding full-sized racehorses and ex-racehorses that were running on the track.

"Over here, they're only riding ponies which is still good experience, but Ireland definitely helps you hone your skills. And it's not on a big stage so there aren't tonnes of people watching if you make a mistake."

His father added: "Twenty runners go round a three-and-a-half furlong (700m) field at a million miles an hour. You need to be sharp to survive."

In a world where young jockeys like Henry Brooke, Conor O'Farrell and Lucy Alexander, are ensuring the quality is high, Brendan Powell Jr has already been sharp enough to discard his racing L-plates.

Now for the real thing...

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