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AnimalsFamiliesMust ReadSeven-year-old Becomes Britain’s Youngest Ever Competing Jockey – Just Months After Fighting Off Killer Infection

Seven-year-old Becomes Britain’s Youngest Ever Competing Jockey – Just Months After Fighting Off Killer Infection

A seven-year-old boy has become Britain’s youngest ever competing jockey – after his love of horses helped him overcome a killer infection.

Little Freddie Fletcher was rushed to hospital last year with swelling on the brain and a collapsed lung.

It was touch and go for a time but his mother is convinced Freddie’s love for seven-year-old pony Tommy helped him beat the disease.

After a remarkable recovery, he became the youngest ever jockey to compete in the Isle of Wight Grand National for under-15s on Sunday – finishing 4th place.

Freddie and Tommy had to negotiate five, two foot high fences before sprinting to the finish line of the three-quarters of a mile long course.

Horse bosses confirmed he is the youngest ever rider to compete in a tournament.

Freddie fletcher (right) racing on the Isle of WIght

UK rules state a rider must be nine-years-old before they can apply to be a licenced jockey.

The buddy jockey from Steventon, Oxfordshire., took to the racetrack to raise money for the Oxford Children’s Hospital which helped save him.

His doting mother, Hannah Fletcher, 31, says the family were “incredibly proud” of Freddie and grateful to the hospital.

She said: “As far as I’m aware he is the youngest rider.

“In the UK you have to be nine to get a licence which is what the struggle is going to be next, but the Isle of Wight tournament, there is no age restriction.

“They {horse bosses} had seen videos of Freddie on the internet and they were happy to let it go. Considering his determination, he deserved to ride.

“We are so proud of him. He’s been up every morning training with Tommy and sometimes in the evening again after school.

Freddie fletcher at the racing where he won 4th place

“It’s been a difficult time for him but Tommy was the one thing that really kept him going – Freddie loves all things equestrian and has a dream of becoming a jockey.”

Freddie began riding in February 2015 after his younger sister Katie, five, started having pony riding lessons.

Once he had a go for the first time he has never looked back and, after meeting his idols AP McCoy and Leighton Aspell, is now being trained by former international eventer Mark Smith.

But Freddie was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in October last year after he reported feeling unwell.

A serious infection he had picked up meant he was able to breath in but not out – resulting in suffocation and his lung collapsing.

After a week being intubated and on medication doctors noticed Freddie behaving strangely and discovered a swelling on the brain – rushing him to intensive care.

“He was in A&E and then all of a sudden a doctor said you don’t realise how ill he is,” added Hannah.

“He went into intensive care – it just spiralled out of control. It just got taken in by the moment.

“Looking back now it was worse for family who were stuck at home and not sure what was going on.

“When they were incubating him, before he was sedated I said bye but he didn’t acknowledge me which was scary.

“The first thing he said when he came around was I want to go see my pony’s.

Freddie Fletcher and is younger sister Katie, five

“Freddie and Tommy’s birthdays are just three days apart. Freddie thinks the pony is meant for him.

“He is that sort of child that likes to prove people wrong.”

Hospital staff nursed him back to health and after a short stint on the Bellhouse-Drayson ward he was discharged at the end of October.

Following a brief period back in hospital over Christmas he has now made a full recovery and was able to compete in Sunday’s race.

The Isle of Wight Grand National and Ashey Scurry secretary Caroline Cooper said: “He is certainly our youngest competitor.

“He is a very competent rider and we had no qualms about him going round.”

To donate to Freddie’s cause go to



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