Jockey Ray Dawson dreaming of Newmarket glory after battling drink and drug addiction

It was the night of May 4 2019 when jockey Ray Dawson crashed his car while under the influence of alcohol in Newmarket.

He'd been drinking at home and decided to get behind the wheel.

The next thing he knew, he was in a police cell.

"I came back to the house here one night and I started drinking and I blacked out. I woke up the next day in a police cell and didn't really know what happened," he told ITV News Anglia.

"Obviously, as time went on during the day, I was told what happened and I can't remember any of it."

"As life got harder I used drink and drugs more to deal with it and eventually they stop working. Then you're in a real dark place."

  • Watch an extended interview with Ray Dawson

The frightening incident was the culmination of an addiction to drink and drugs that had threatened to spiral out of control for some time.

Since moving to Newmarket from Ireland in 2015, Ray had struggled to hold down a job and also struggled with his mental health.

He's now turned his life around for the better though.

Since that night, he's not touched a drop of alcohol - largely thanks to the support of the Sporting Chance clinic, a mental health charity for current and former professional athletes set up by ex-England footballer Tony Adams.

He's also got engaged to his fiancée Abbie and is now a proud father to baby Lila who celebrates her first birthday this weekend.

Ray is now dad to baby Lila. Credit: ITV News Anglia

His racing career has taken off as well, and this year he has already rode more than 50 winners.

On Saturday, he will bid to land his first ever group one victory in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on board two-year-old filly Zain Claudette.

The pair have already won the group two Lowther Stakes at York, and Ray is dreaming of an even bigger prize at the home of racing.

Zain Claudette won the Lowther Stakes at York in August. Credit: PA

"For so long I've dreamt about winning a group one," said Ray.

"I've fantasised about the day it might happen and obviously at one point in my life I was a million miles away from it, I was the furthest thing away from someone who was going to win a group one you could ever think of.

"So to be at this moment, to have a real-life chance - it's really exciting."

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