Jockey rides winner before epic hospital dash to make son’s birth


Ben Curtis signs off for the year at Ascot on Saturday, where the star-studded Qipco British Champions Day fixture is being held. He teams up with Mystery Angel

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A top jockey rode a winner just before making an epic hospital dash for the birth of his son.

Ben Curtis, 32, won the 8.30pm race at Newcastle and less than 12 hours later he was in the car in Ireland rushing to be by his wife Shauna’s side.

“I live life at a million miles an hour and I didn’t expect this to be any different,” he said.

After the success on horse One For the Ladies, Curtis drove back to their home in Thirsk and received a call to tell him baby Cian was on the way.

He booked the earliest flight, which was heading out of Stansted at 5.30am.

Curtis, seventh in the jockeys’ championship ahead of Qipco British Champions Day, made the journey of more than three hours and parked up for a 45-minute nap at around 3.30am.

Ben Curtis riding Mystery Angel to win the 2021 Betfair Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse



By the time he landed in Shannon, on September 28 and exited the airport it was 7:30am – and his dad Dane picked him up for the final leg to visit Shauna near Cork.

They got through the door of the hospital at 9.15am, just as she was being taken for a cesarean, after being in labour all night.

“I walked in and Shauna was being wheeled down to theatre,” Curtis said.

“I was gowned up with the Covid bits and bobs by twenty past – and Cian was born at 9.25am.

Ben Curtis holds his son Cian

“To be there was absolutely fantastic.”

Curtis, who missed the birth of his first child Brodi ironically when he was competing in Newcastle, stayed with his wife and newborn for the day.

He had taken four days off around the due date to go to Ireland, where Shauna was being kept company by family while he worked.

But he came back home to resume life in the weighing room when little Cian did not arrive.

Days later he would take the flight and two car journeys to meet him for the first time.

“It was quite funny how it all worked out,” he said.

“Shauna is made of strong stuff. I think they were both waiting for me to get there.”

As mother and son had to stay in hospital, Curtis flew back to Stansted the following morning at 6.30am.

He made it for the start of Catterick’s fixture – over 200 miles away – and celebrated becoming a father-of-two with a double.

Ben’s wife Shauna pictured with little Cian, who weighed 7lb 1oz and Brodie, three

However, Curtis will be forced to slow down once he has raced at Ascot on Saturday.

He is signing off for the year aboard Mystery Angel in the Group 1 Qipco British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes – as he has his own hospital stay planned.

Curtis, a former champion on the all-weather in the winter, misses this year’s campaign, as he is having three operations in a matter of weeks.

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He has booked procedures to fix his feet, nose and the shoulder he dislocated when winning a race in June.

Curtis needs a chip of bone removing from his nose, which he hurt when a horse slipped at Beverley after crossing the finishing line.

The dedicated sportsman says the ongoing issues have affected him this season – and he will take time out to come back fighting fit in 2022.

“I have spent the year riding in pain,” he said.

“Jockeys’ boots and saddles need repairs and so does your body. I’m looking forward to getting back to enjoying the day job.”

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