After quitting school and turning to horse-riding, Lilly Pinchin, 26, is now the sport’s most talked about young talent. Here, Lilly shares how her strong mindset and commitment helped her overcome injury and achieve top title wins.

‘My journey to become a professional jockey began at the Pony Club, where I did show jumping and eventing as a child. I got my first pony, Magical Toffee, at the age of nine and took him pony racing at my local racecourse, Cheltenham, where we won. I loved the speed and the thrill of racing, and I just wanted to go fast – I caught the bug from then on.

‘I have no background in horse-racing. My parents never pushed me to become a jockey – I was just very determined, and from
a young age knew it was something I wanted to do. I took myself out of school without my parents’ permission. I knew I loved racing, so I wanted to focus all my attention on that.

‘In 2015, Point to Point, or amateur horse-racing, was the natural progression after pony racing and I learnt a lot from it, achieving my first win a year later. It was an amazing feeling and gave me a real taste of what a career as a jockey could be like.

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‘I turned fully professional in November 2023, achieved by riding 75 winners. The adrenaline I feel when I ride a winner, and the special partnerships I have with racehorses, is what keeps me going, even when it’s challenging. When riding and exercising the horses, you get to know them inside out. No horse is the same, which is what makes them so unique and individually talented.

‘I really enjoy the fitness aspect of the sport. I did lots of different sports at school and have always had an active lifestyle. If I am not racing, I am running or in the gym. Staying active is important for keeping my cardiovascular fitness up – during the peak season, I will be racing up to seven days a week, so it’s crucial to keep my body at peak fitness!

‘When you’re a jockey, much like with other professional sports, there is always a sense of the unknown. You have to be reactive to what your body needs and make time for rest and recovery. I had a bad injury a few years ago, where I broke my back and two ribs following a fall, which left me side-lined. You never know when that might happen again, so this is often on my mind. Losing races can also take a toll on you mentally, so I know all too well the importance of keeping a strong mindset and not letting adversities get me down.

‘I have achieved what I wanted in both my personal life and my racing career. I am really proud of what I have accomplished. However, I would love to keep riding winners. Racing is a unique sport, as men and women compete against each other on a level playing field. In recent years, there have been more success stories about women riders, which I hope to add to.’