INSPIRATIONAL SCHOOLBOY FUNDRAISER JACK LANDER LIVING THE DREAM AS A JOCKEY
A Halesowen-born teenager who raised thousands of pounds for horseracing charities as a schoolboy is now living his dream in the saddle as a jockey - thanks to those he helped with his fundraising.
Jack Lander became hooked on racing when he watched the great Frankel win the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in 2011 as a five year old and has been on the road to the weighing room ever since.
Lander raised more than £30,000 for charities such as the Injured Jockeys Fund and Racing Together through a series of charity walks and it was through the fundraising that plenty of people in the sport reached out to lend Jack a hand with his riding – including top trainer Karl Burke.
The 16 year old now works full-time for Burke at his yard in North Yorkshire and has had two rides so far this year, including at Haydock Park last month (pictured in red silks).
Jack explains: “I started off watching Frankel win the 2000 Guineas and it went from there really. I saw the risks that the jockeys take and wondered if there was anything I could do to help those who are unfortunately injured.
“I read about the Injured Jockeys Fund and Racing Welfare and thought that I could try and do something for them, so I did two charity walks and made a book which was a great experience. I met some good people and they helped me to get into yards to ride out and things.
“I’m working full-time with Karl at the moment and I’m just looking to get as many rides as I can and see how it goes. Karl is very good to me and has been very supportive.”
Jack’s parents Darren and Allison Lander have been there every step of the way with their son and when speaking at Haydock Park last month, his father was bursting with pride at seeing his son live his dream.
Darren said: “It’s just amazing really - we’ve gone from seeing him watch Frankel at five to riding in a fully-fledged race and it’s all he’s ever dreamed of.
“To be able to do that at 16 and keep his focus on doing what he wants to do is beyond words really, because I never had that ambition when I was that age. He’s started on the bottom rung of the ladder and hopefully he can climb it.
“He’s very much got tunnel vision focus and if there is something that he wants he will go for it. I think that’s seen him quite well through life so far and fingers crossed he keeps going.
“He’s certainly proven one thing in life, that you get from something what you put into it and he’s worked so hard. We’re so proud of him, but he’s had a lot of help along the way and I can’t thank Karl and everyone else who’s helped him enough.”
Jack has earned plenty of friends along the way in the sport, including the Chief Executive of the Injured Jockeys Fund, Lisa Hancock, who has been thrilled by his progress.
She said: “Jack has been a great supporter of the IJF and raised a lot of money for us in the past. We wish him all the best as he sets out to follow his dream and be a jockey.”
When asked about his dreams for the future, the young jockey is keeping his feet very much on the ground.
He added: “I’m not really looking too far ahead. I just want to get to my first winner and go from there. That’s the main aim and hopefully I can just keep the ball rolling from there.”