Mother’s Day promise from Oxfordshire jockey to finish first on horse honouring late Queen

Award-winning Oxfordshire jockey Olive Nicholls has made a Mother’s Day promise to turn a horse named in honour of Queen Elizabeth II into a thoroughbred winner.

Thank You Ma’am, who has caught the eye of famous jump jockey Sir AP McCoy, has been runner-up in his last three outings. But the 18-year-old rider has vowed to mother Georgie Nicholls, the horse’s trainer, to finish first past the post.

Georgie and Olive Nicholls are the most successful mother and daughter combination in British racing, and from their base in the village of Kingston Lisle, have more than 30 horses training between them.

Mother and daughter Olive and Georgie Nicholls Credit: Fiona Browne/PA

The 18-year-old, who was named Leading Amateur Jockey 2023 at The McCoys – the Jockey Club’s awards ceremony, said: “I’ve promised mum for Mother’s Day we’re going to take Leroy to the next level and hopefully he’ll get a taste for winning as he’s got the ability.

“The sky is the limit and our target will be the Cheltenham Festival 2025.”

The teenage jockey is the preferred rider for Thank You Ma’am, which racing fans can buy a share in through a syndicate, and she praised the temperament of the horse which races over jumps.

“He is the yard favourite and is the perfect horse for the club as he has buckets of ability and is unbelievably social,” she said.

“In fact he has even been to the pub a couple of times to celebrate winning the locals a huge sum after coming third at 125/1.”

Celebrations for jockey Olive Nicholls, her mother and trainer Georgie Nicholls and the team after Thank You Ma’am’s third place at Kempton Credit: far right

Ms Nicholls is member of racing royalty as her father is Paul Nicholls, who won the 2012 Grand National, and is the current Champion jump trainer – having won the title 14 times.

Thank You Ma’am was named in honour of the late Queen and is affectionately know as Leroy around the yard and is due to run on Saturday, conditions willing, in a Class 1 race at Sandown Park Racecourse, which is live on ITV Racing, with Olive taking the reins.

The teenager said: “The Queen and racing went hand in hand and I would have loved to have ridden for her, sadly it was not to be but it is an ambition of mine to one day put on those famous colours.”

The horse was sourced by her mother Mrs Nicholls, and when asked for his verdict Sir AP McCoy rode the thoroughbred and said it was a “grand horse”.

Punters from both sides of the Irish Sea will be gearing up for the Cheltenham Festival which begins next Tuesday, and although Thank You Ma’am will not be racing this year he has a real chance of making it to next event next year’s event, said Mrs Nicholls.