Graham Lee (jockey)

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Graham Lee after winning the 2006 World Bet Exchange Now Live at Novices' Chase on Aces Four

Graham Lee (born 16 December 1975 in Galway, Ireland)[1] is a successful Irish jockey, operating in Great Britain and Ireland. He was initially a National Hunt jockey, but changed codes mid-career and now operates as a flat jockey.

National Hunt career[edit]

Lee joined the team of trainer Howard Johnson permanently in 2002, after leaving the stables of Malcolm Jefferson and was largely responsible for the schooling and on-track development of horses owned by Graham Wylie[2] including Inglis Drever, No Refuge and Arcalis.[3]

Lee held freelance status, and rode for many other trainers during these years, most notably Ginger McCain.[4] In an autumn meeting of 2003 at Wetherby Racecourse, Lee achieved one of his most famous feats, by winning a quintuple of races. This achievement secured a win of over £500,000 on a fivefold accumulator bet.

After managing to take third place with the horse in the 2003 race, in 2004 Lee won the Grand National on Amberleigh House. The horse was trained by Ginger McCain, who famously trained three-time winner Red Rum.[4] The success could not be repeated, however, as the horse achieved only tenth place in 2005, and was finally retired after being pulled up at the 21st fence in 2006.[5]

Victorious in the Scottish National in 2004,[6] by riding topweight Grey Abbey to win by a distance Lee became one of only three jockeys, along with Brian Fletcher and Ruby Walsh, to achieve a "Grand National Double".

Lee spent a lot of his time working with former Middlesbrough FC fitness coach Chris Barnes working in the gym improving on fitness and injury recovery times.[7]

Lee missed the 2006 Scottish National due to a virus,[8] which would eventually end his relationship with Howard Johnson for whom he had been the main stable jockey.[1] He was replaced by Paddy Brennan. Lee then became the main stable jockey and deputy trainer for Ferdy Murphy,[9] where he would remain until March 2012. He was second in the 2007 Scottish National on Nine De Sivola and missing out by just half a length, as in the Irish Grand National of the same year.

Lee rode favourite Joe's Edge in the 2007 National, but pulled up at the 20th fence after failing to trouble the leaders. He was scheduled to ride Idle Talk for Donald McCain, the son of Ginger McCain, in the 2008 Grand National, however he was ruled out after sustaining multiple fractures to the jaw several weeks earlier.[10]

Although his profile dipped sharply after joining Murphy, he came back into the sport's consciousness through his involvement with several improving chasers and hurdlers, and moved into second place in the 2007–08 jockeys championship.[11] In so doing he also became only the fourth National Hunt jockey to be placed in the first two positions in the National Hunt Jockeys' Championship in ten years[1] (following Robert Thornton, Richard Johnson and Timmy Murphy), at the time displacing Richard Johnson.

In 2009, Lee began riding for newly licensed trainer Rose Dobbin, wife of jockey Tony Dobbin, in addition to his work for Murphy.[1] Lee was a surprise choice to ride for David Pipe in the 2010 Grand National, eventually being selected to ride The Package after Timmy Murphy chose to ride his National-winning horse, Comply or Die.

He rode his 1000th career winner on 7 January 2012.

Other feats[edit]

Grey Abbey[edit]

The horse was sent to the 2005 Cheltenham Gold Cup, where Lee again took the ride but it was reported that the horse was injured during the race, which is thought to be the reason for it finishing fifth. Lee, however, went on to win Top Jockey for the Cheltenham Festival.[12] Subsequently, Grey Abbey retired just over a week before the 2005 Scottish Grand National. In March 2006, it was reported that Grey Abbey's trainer, Howard Johnson, would bring him out of retirement for the 2006 Scottish National, but this plan was not put into action.

Irish National[edit]

Lee has never won the Irish national, but came second in 2007 when riding Nine De Sivola.[13] Nine De Sivola was also second in the Scottish national in the same year, again missing out by just half a length.

Cheltenham Festival[edit]

Lee won the award for top jockey at the 2005 festival (which included his first ever win at the festival), and finished fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.[12] He failed to make any impact in the 2006 festival, but ended a 49 race drought when winning at 20–1 on the third day of the 2007 festival. He was injured for the duration of the 2008 festival. Lee has taken four rides in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, finishing 5th on Grey Abbey after leading for the majority of the race in 2005, and Ballycassidy in 2006. He finished sixth on Roll Along and Calgary Bay in 2009 and 2010 respectively, after a three-year absence from the race, although he had no winners at either festival. Lee finally broke his four-year festival duck when winning aboard Divers on the first day of the 2011 festival.

Betfred Gold Cup[edit]

Lee was aboard Hot Weld in the 2007 Betfred Gold Cup as the horse posted the first ever double of the Scottish National and Betfred Gold Cup.[14] Ironically, he had been on stablemate, Nine De Sivola in the Scottish National. Poker de Sivola won the 2011 instance of this race, the horse Lee had ridden the previous week in the Scottish National. Timmy Murphy was the winning jockey.

Prize money[edit]

In the 2008/09 season, Lee became the first jockey to win £100,000 in prize money in that season, however he was later injured and after a three-month absence, began to work his way back up to ninth in the jockey championship.

Grand National record[edit]

2003: Amberleigh House (3rd) – Ginger McCain
2004: Amberleigh House (1st) – Ginger McCain
2005: Amberleigh House (10th) – Ginger McCain
2006: Amberleigh House (P21) – Ginger McCain
2007: Joe's Edge (P20) – Ferdy Murphy
2008: Did not enter (injured)
2009: Kilbeggan Blade (P21) – Tom George
2010: The Package (U19) – David Pipe
2011: Big Fella Thanks (7th) – Ferdy Murphy

Scottish National record[edit]

2004: Grey Abbey (1st)
2005: Ballycassidy (Pulled Up)
2006: Did not enter (injured)
2007: Nine De Sivola (2nd)
2008: Did not enter (injured)
2009: Nine De Sivola (Pulled Up)
2010: Poker De Sivola (Pulled Up)
2011L Poker De Sivola (Brought Down)

Flat career[edit]

Following a series of serious injuries he announced that he would switch from National Hunt to flat racing in April 2012. He previously endured a stint as a flat jockey in 1995 and has always held a dual licence. He came third in the jockeys' championship of 2014.

Major Flat wins[edit]

United Kingdom Great Britain

Previous stables[edit]

Noel Meade – After a successful stint on the Irish pony circuit, Lee left school at the age of 15 to join the stable.

Dessie McDonogh – Based in County Meath, this was Lee's last position in Ireland before moving to England.

Mary Reveley – During this stint, Lee was a minor jockey, not riding many high-profile horses. He also suffered a serious knee injury, from which it took more than seven months to recover.

Bill Haigh – Here, recovering from his severe injury problems, Lee rose to the top ten in the jockey championship.

Malcolm Jefferson – A successful stint for Lee which secured him the lucrative position with Howard Johnson, and fifth place in the jockey championship. In 2010, Lee began riding for Jefferson again.

J Howard Johnson – With this stable, Lee secured the top jockey award at Cheltenham and a Scottish Grand National win. He finished third in the jockey championship, behind Tony McCoy and Richard Johnson. He also won the Grand National during this period, but this was for Ginger McCain.

Ferdy Murphy – Following his acrimonious departure from the stables of Howard Johnson, Lee became stable jockey and later a deputy trainer for Ferdy Murphy. He rode here for six years before making the decision to move into flat racing.

Personal life[edit]

Lee comes from a very sporting family. His grandfather, Matthew Lee, played for Kilmarnock FC as well as being capped for his national team. His brother, Malcolm Lee was a flat jockey, as is his cousin Dean Mernagh.

He is a close friend of champion jockey, Tony McCoy, with whom he had lodged in the past. He is married with a daughter and a son, and lives in Bedale, North Yorkshire.


Grand National – WON : Amberleigh House, 2004.

Scottish Grand National – WON: Grey Abbey, 2004

Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey – WON: 3 wins, 2005

Cheltenham World Hurdle – WON: Inglis Drever, 2005

Cheltenham Supreme Novices Hurdle – WON: Arcalis, 2005

Steward's Cup – WON: Hawkeyethenoo, 2012

Charlie Hall Chase – WON: Ballybough Rasher, 2003

Irish Grand National – 2nd: Nine De Sivola, 2007

Ryanair Chase – 2nd: Kalahari King, 2011

Totesport Bowl – 4th: Calgary Bay, 2010

Cheltenham Gold Cup – 5th: Grey Abbey, 2005

NH Champion Jockey Standings

  • 1993/94 – 124th (6)
  • 1994/95 – (20)
  • 1995/96 – 70th (11)
  • 1996/97 – 57th (16)
  • 1997/98 – 39th (21)
  • 1998/99 – 38th (24)
  • 1999/00 – 28th (28)
  • 2000/01 – 25th (25)
  • 2001/02 – 7th (58)
  • 2002/03 – 6th (66)
  • 2003/04 – 3rd (94)
  • 2004/05 – 5th (100)
  • 2005/06 – 3rd (108)
  • 2006/07 – 6th (89)
  • 2007/08 – 5th (89)
  • 2008/09 – 10th (67)
  • 2009/10 – 11th (65)
  • 2010/11 – 6th (77)
  • 2011/12 – 37th (31)

Flat Jockey Championship Standings

  • 2012 – 8th (87)
  • 2013 – 8th ()
  • 2014 – 3rd (129)

A/W Jockey Championship Standings

  • 2012/13 8th (35)
  • 2013/14 8th ()


  1. ^ a b c d Graham Lee: Grand National 2010,, accessed 3 April 2010.
  2. ^ Racing: Baracouda's supremacy shattered by the computer kid,, 18 March 2005, accessed 3 April 2010.
  3. ^ Racing: Lee lives a dream,, 20 March 2005, accessed 3 April 2010.
  4. ^ a b Racing: Ginger’s revival brings down the house,, 4 April 2004, accessed 3 April 2010.
  5. ^ McCain bows out with a smile,, 10 April 2006, accessed 3 April 2010.
  6. ^ Abbey wins Scottish National,, 17 April 2004, accessed 3 April 2010.
  7. ^ Lee celebrates promotion to the premier league,, 29 January 2005, accessed 3 April 2010.
  8. ^ Philson jockey decision to wait,, 21 April 2006, accessed 3 April 2010.
  9. ^ Lee moving to Murphy’s,, 12 May 2006, accessed 3 April 2010.
  10. ^ King misses out on festival,, 6 March 2008, accessed 3 April 2010.
  11. ^ Injured Graham Lee concedes defeat over Cheltenham,, 6 March 2008, accessed 3 April 2010.
  12. ^ a b Abbey puts Lee in Aintree predicament,, 23 March 2005, accessed 3 April 2010.
  13. ^ Nine de Sivola backed for success Archived 25 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine,, 18 April 2009, accessed 3 April 2010.
  14. ^ Hot Weld on spot to help Lee get over bad Ayr day,, 30 April 2007, accessed 3 April 2010.