William Buick was born in Norway on July 22nd 1988 and horses were a big part of his life from the beginning. Scottish born father Walter was an eight-time Scandinavian champion jockey whilst his mother was a showjumper and dressage rider.
Buick started riding at a young age and missed a lot of school due to riding out in the mornings. He is multi-lingual, speaking four different languages fluently, and spent his summer holidays in the UK. During those holidays he would ride out for top trainers such as Marcus Tregoning and Andrew Balding. After he finished his education in Norway, he moved to the UK to become an apprentice for Balding.
Despite being small for his age and in need of a little protection on the course, Balding gave him his first ride on ‘Tiny Tim’ at Brighton in August 2006. Just a month later, on September 27th, he rode his first winner when ‘Bank on Benny’ won at Salisbury.
Before he had even ridden in a race, classic-winning trainer Ian Balding placed a bet at 500/1 for Buick to become champion jockey by the year 2020. After a successful first few months in the saddle had seen him ride ten winners, the trainer even went as far as to say “Buick is without question the best apprentice we have ever had.”
His first full season in 2007 saw him show his undoubted talent by riding his first winner at Royal Ascot when ‘Dark Missile’ won the Wokingham Stakes. He finished the season in third place in the apprentice championship and won the prestigious Lester award for apprentice jockey of the year.
The following year, Buick shared the champion apprentice title with stablemate David Probert. He also became the first person to ever win the Lester award twice when he was once again named apprentice jockey of the year.
His career went from strength to strength and in October 2009 he rode the Mick Channon trained ‘Lahaleeb’ to his first Group One race victory at Woodbine in Canada. That win proved he could cut it at the top level and a few months later, in January 2010, he caught the eye of top trainer John Gosden. Buick was offered the role of stable jockey for Gosden at his powerful Newmarket-based yard.
The Gosden/Buick partnership got off to a flying start when ‘Dar Remi’ won the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March 2010. This was just Buick’s fourth ride for Gosden and was a sign of good things to come.
They followed up that first success with another Group One victory in August 2010 when ‘Debussy’ won the Arlington Million. This was again followed up a month later when Buick rode ‘Arctic Cosmos’ to victory in the St Leger to give the young jockey his first British classic win.
In the same year, Buick had his first Group One win in France when he won the Prix Morny at Deauville aboard the Daniel Simcock trained ‘Dream Ahead’. He then rode the same horse to victory in the Shadwell Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket for his fifth Group One win of the year.
After his successes in 2010, the year had a terrible ending for the jockey when he fell twice at Meydan the day before New Year’s Eve. Buick spent a week in hospital with bleeding on the brain and was forced to endure a six-week stint on the sidelines.
He started 2011 as favourite for the champion jockey title but his chances took a hit when Gosden was one of several trainers to boycott ‘under-tariff’ races due to a dispute over prize money. Despite this set-back, he rode over 100 winners in a season for the first time and had five Group One victories worldwide.
The following year, Buick rode ‘Fallen for You’ to success in the 2012 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. That would prove to be just one of his nine Group One wins that year. He rode over 100 winners for the second season in a row, finishing with 130, whilst amassing total prize money in excess of £3.5million in the UK.
January 2013 saw him sign a lucrative deal to ride for two-months in Japan, which got off to a great start with a win on his first ride.
He rode to success in six Group One races in 2013 and again finished with over 100 winners in a season. In fact, he has now ridden over 100 winners on the flat in the UK every year from 2009 up until last year. In 2015, he rode 96 winners between May 2nd and October 17th to finish runner up behind Silvestre De Sousa in the race for the champion jockey title.
He has had Group One success every year since his first in 2009, in seven different countries, including winning the richest race in history in 2015. That race was the $10million Dubai World Cup, which he won on the Saeed Bin Suroor trained 12/1 shot ‘Prince Bishop’.
This year, 2016, is his eleventh season and he has so far ridden a total of just under 900 career winners on the flat in the UK as well as several more all over the world. He has started off the year with Group One success in Dubai, on the Charlie Appleby trained ‘Tryster’ in the Emirates sponsored Jebel Hatta.
William Buick is a naturally gifted rider whose talent has made him one of the best flat jockeys in the world. There are still four years left until 2020 and that bet Ian Balding made at the start of the jockey’s career doesn’t look quite as crazy now as it did then.
It would take a brave person to bet against Buick becoming champion jockey by the time the bet expires in four years. Regardless of whether he is crowned champion or not, Buick has had great success in his chosen career and there is undoubtedly plenty more to come.