His full name is Oscar Ortiz de Urbina y Valverde but on coming to England it was abbreviated to Oscar Urbina.
To have placed in a French Group 1, the 2003 Prix du Moulin, 4th on Soviet Song.
Oscar's Photo Gallery ...(Photos by Jose-Antonio Rodriguez & Harvey Mayson)
L-R...Oscar in 1988, 1991 with Cash Asmussen, 1993 in Spain, 1994 with Barathea, riding Smart Alec up Warren Hill in 1994 and in 1997.
He was first attracted to racing through his love for animals & he joined the Spanish apprentice school in Madrid in 1986. Two years later, aged 16, his first ever ride was a winning one on Don Giorgio at San Sebastian racecourse on 25.07.88 in the Premio Hondarribia for apprentices. In the early days, his style was a bit Spanish with his foot well in the irons, but it has become more streamlined since.
He was twice Champion Apprentice in Spain and was 3rd in the jockeys' table in 1992. He has also been 2nd twice in the Spanish Derby.
His first Spanish Group win was aboard Barroco in the Premio Clasura in the autumn of 1993.
In 1999, he won Spain's biggest race, the Copa de Oro de San Sebastian on Daniel Sepulchre's Persian Ruler. He showed just how much it meant to him by punching the air and saluting the crowd. The victory was celebrated by the local press the following day as Oscar was the first Basque jockey to win this prestigious race.
Luca Cumani (1994-98) & James Fanshawe (1999--today)
On the advice of friend, Nick Higgins, Oscar decided to try new pastures and moved to Newmarket in March 1994 to join Luca Cumani.
Higgins picks up the story......."I had first seen Oscar ride in the autumn of 1990 in Madrid. He reminded me a lot of Walter Swinburn. He used to produce some magic rides from the front and I was always very impressed by his somewhat English riding style. His talent was there for all to see, it just wasn't being appreciated in the right way..." recalls Nick Higgins.
"Riding out in the mornings at Oscar's yard, we soon became friends. I was always trying to beat Oscar in the gallops but could never get by his horse!
I was forever telling him that he had the potential to go to England and have a go. I don't he think he appreciated that it was possible. Then, one day, out of the blue in January 1994 he said "Nico, let's go to England."
It was just at the time that Luca Cumani had split with Frankie (Dettori) and I thought that Mr.Cumani might just be interested. So we thought of a publicity strategy that would get Cumani's attention and we placed an advert in the Racing Post stating ....
Champion Apprentice looking for opportunity in England
I also managed to persuade a contact in the Racing Post to write an article about Oscar on the same day...recollects Higgins.
Then on the very same day of the article and advert, as I was looking for a job within racing too, I had an interview with Cumani and broached the subject of Oscar with Luca. He had indeed seen the advert and article and suggested........."Tell him to come over for a month and we'll see."
At first I was scared that Oscar, at the reality and enormity of it all, would chicken out. Quite the opposite, he jumped at the chance
and within 10 days we were back on the plane to Newmarket.....Oscar's first "digs" were with the girl who looked after Gossamer.
That first morning, when he stepped out onto to Newmarket Heath on a horse not knowing a word of English and miles away from home,
must have been quite daunting....!
Within a week, he rang to say that he was riding some real "Rolls Royce" racehorses! "
Oscar had to wait about 3 months for his first ride in the UK on the Cumani trained Sadler's Wells filly, Bells, which finished 4th in a maiden at Newmarket in May. He had a further 2 rides that year.
In 1995, he rode his first winner on Jedaal in June and rode another two wins from a total of 30 rides.
The highlight of the 1996 season, apart from 30 wins from 200 rides and an ever-increasing confidence instilled by Cumani, was the call up to ride Mons in the 1996 St.Leger, where they finished 4th.
Then the bain of all jockeys struck. It was on June 5th, 1997, that Oscar broke his ankle in two places when schooling a Cumani 3 year old at Bedford Lodge. The injury, on the back of his best ever year, was unfortunate and kept Oscar off the track for the rest of the season.
On his return in 1998, Cumani was now using other jockeys and Oscar had to start off from scratch again. These were dark times with Oscar riding a handful of winners in 1998. He subsequently opted for a fresh change of scenery and James Fanshawe agreed to take him on in early 1999.
Beween 1994 and 1998, for Cumani, he rode 38 winners from 202 rides (19%) & 45% of his rides for the Italian were 1st, 2nd or 3rd.
For owner, HHAga Khan, he has had a 50% win rate from 8 rides and in the UK he has ridden winners on 31 of its 36 flat racecourses.
1999 in his first season for Fanshawe saw an improvement with 25 winners from 209 rides.
During 2000, apart from booting home 16 winners in the UK he rode 2 winners in Spain (2nd in Listed Gobierno Vasco), 8 winners in Italy along with some rides in Germany.
For the winter of 2000, he had a riding contract based in Pisa, Italy and returned to his 3rd season at James Fanshawe's yard in Newmarket. Check out Fanshawe's well produced and frequently updated site at www.JamesFanshawe.com
Punters wil be interested to know that for much of 2000 Oscar was ranked No1 in the UK in the Jockey's Handicap devised by www.Winform.co.uk
For 2001, with the retirement of Ray Cochrane, Oscar shared the rides at James Fanshawe's Pegasus Stables with Michael Hills. The season went pretty well with Oscar winning 20 races in total. He lifted the valuable Tote Silver Bowl at Haydock in May 2001 on Ecclesiastical and was then placed 2nd on the horse in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot.
Ecclesiastical was sold to race in Hong Kong at the end of 2001 and in March 2002, now called Olympic Express, he scorched home to win the £700,000 Hong Kong Derby by 3.5 lengths having won his prep race in equally easy fashion.
His biggest wins in the 2002 season have been the Group 1 Ascot Fillies' Mile on Soviet Song, the Group 3 Leicestershire Stakes on Warningford, the £100,000 added "Tote Scoop 6 Handicap" at Sandown on Heretic, the Listed John of Gaunt Stakes on Warningford and the Listed Sweet Solera Stakes on Soviet Song.
On September 24th, Oscar scored his 250th career victory on Polar Ben on Newmarket's Rowley Mile.
As of September 29th, 2002, Oscar has achieved the notable feats in 2002 of riding the most winners for a Newmarket stable, the 3rd highest winning percentage amongst jockeys at 17% (behind Dettori & Richard Hills) and is top jockey in percentage terms with winning favourites....a sure sign that he responds when put in a pressure situation.
On a riding front observers have remarked how he often wins races with a bit up his sleeve without resort to the whip.
Trainers appreciate that Oscar has treated their charges considerately and they know that a horse ridden by him will again give their best in future races.
Oscar also prides himself in analysing a horse's true ability and physical quirks and he considers it his duty to relay this back to his mount's connections.
Every jockey always has a horse they are associated with. For Oscar, it has been a very good partnership with top 7 furlong specialist, Warningford. He was the very first ride and winner that Oscar had for his new governor, James Fanshawe, back in 1999 at Warwick racecourse. In 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002, he partnered Warningford 13 times:
1st---5 wins (a Group 3, three Listed races and a Conditions race)
2nd---Prix de la Porte Maillot (Gr.3) & Dubai Duty Free Cup (Listed)
3rd---Twice in Listed races
5th---to Godolphin's Sampower Star (beaten 2 lengths) in Ascot's Group 2 Diadem Stakes over 6 furlongs
The Group 3 win in the 2002 Leicestershire Stakes on Warningford was Oscar's first ever win in a Group race.
However, better was to come in the shape of Soviet Song in the Group 1 Meon Valley Stud Fillies' Mile at Ascot on September 28th, 2002.
Renewing his unbeaten sequence of 2 wins on the Marju filly, Oscar delivered the goods on the heavily backed 11/10 favourite and eased her to an easy win by 2 lengths for the 10,000 strong owners' syndicate called the Elite Racing Club.
"She was brave as a lion and would slot in anywhere I asked her to. She can also pick up and accelerate at any time...I love her!"
"Leading up to the race, I never pictured us winning and was afraid some incident would affect us in the race. I walked the track in the morning to work things out, unwind and check the ground where Prompt Payment had slipped up the day before.
It was only going down to the start that I started to feel more at ease and once in the stalls I knew I had to take the bull by the horns.
Her win has aged me 10 years on the spot! But today was my day and I knew I had to take it"...declared an emotional and lost-for-words Oscar on picking up his first ever Group 1 victory.
Up to then, Oscar had always rated One So Wonderful as the best horse that he had ridden. However, Soviet Song has now taken that treasured spot and he is looking forward to what the winter favourite for the 1,000 Guineas will do in 2003!
It is also interesting to note that on the back of this great win, the Elite Racing Club saw it membership rise by 40% over the winter to 14,000 !
Now in Oscar's 5th season at Pegasus Stables, James Fanshawe & Oscar have teamed up very well over the 4 1/2 years with Urbina riding 80 winners for the stable to September 9th, 2003....thereby surpassing the previous best of 75 winners chalked up by David Harrison. Oscar is extremely proud to have had such a successful partnership.
The 1,000 Guineas proved to be a very good effort with Soviet Song finishing a creditable 4th behind 3 hot pots, Russian Rythmn, Six Perfections and Intercontinental. The Elite Racing Club filly was produced with a storming and threatening run at the furlong pole but it petered out in the run to the line as lack of complete race fitness began to tell. The filly was watched by 1,500 members of the Club and they gave her a massive cheer when she returned to the winner's enclosure!
By June 22nd, Oscar had placed in 4 of 5 Group races: Grp.2 Sandown Mile (4th), Grp.3 Sagaro Stakes (3rd), Grp.1 1,000 Guineas (4th), Grp.3 Ormonde Stakes (7th) and Grp.1 Coronation Stakes (2nd). He was also 4th in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin on a promising return to form for Soviet Song.
His next professional assignment saw riding for 7 weeks in Singapore in November & December 2003. Well received by the local trainers, Oscar mainly secured rides on outsiders and managed to finish in the frame about 15 times from about 25 rides.
Oscar kicked off the European season in fine style by lifting the first Group race of the season in Germany, the Group 3 Grosser Preis der Bremer Wirtschaft run over 2,100m at Bremen, on 14.2-1 outsider Olaso in the very last strides. The win came about through Oscar meeting fellow jockey Filip Minarik, who had recommended him to trainer Pavel Vovcenko, whilst riding in Singapore 3 months earlier.
In June, he scorched home by 5 lengths at Royal Ascot in the Buckingham Palace Handicap on Unscrupulous.....thereby completing an excellent record of 1 win, three 2nds and a 3rd at Royal Ascot from 6 rides ! The win was also fitting because in 2003 Unscrupulous had had no qualms in trying to bite Oscar's hand off one morning on the way back from a gallop!
Oscar has now ridden 91 winners for the Fanshawe stable.
On the 15th August, 2004, Oscar returned to his home track at San Sebastian to ride Rummenigue in the Copa de Oro. They were 3rd but he won the next race on Dulce Asesino to record his 300th career victory.
Oscar again kicked off the season in good style by riding that much valued "TV winner" on Rebel Rebel in the Listed Easter Stakes at Kempton. Nursing and cajoling the horse all the way he managed to pip the others right on the line.
One thing that is now becoming very clear is that Oscar can now be considered one of the more senior jockeys in the weighing room. His experience is beginning to be much valued by trainers such as Fanshawe, Neville Callaghan, Marco Botti, Barry Hills, Ed Dunlop, Greg Chung, etc who are all using him now.
This point was reaffirmed when he guided Rebel Rebel to 2nd in the 2,000 Guineas, beaten just a over a length by hotpot Footstepsinthesand with Kieren Fallon. Oscar was absolutely over the moon with the horses's performance.
On November 11th, Oscar rode a Saturday double to match his 2002 score of 44 winners. He went on to ride 52 winners in the year...a great achievement. The highlights of the season have been riding Sesmen to win the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood and Oscar's first win in a Spanish classic, the Spanish St.Leger on Banaby.
Oscar combined riding in the UK with more than 30 trips on a Sunday to ride in Spain for the champion stable, Cuadra Vadarchi. He has ridden 13 winners from 80 rides in Spain to land him in the top 10 jockeys over there when the local ones are having close to 300 rides.
Oscar received offers to ride in Dubai for the winter carnival but Vadarchi then stepped in and offered him a retainer too juicy to turn down and so Oscar has decided to base his riding tack in Spain for the 2009 season. He is available to ride anywhere when free, especially in south-west France for English trainers.
Were an offer to arise from the UK or anywhere else, then Oscar would consider it.
Now in his 10th season with James Fanshawe, his record of 119 wins to Nov 28th, 2008 with Pegasus stables stands as follows: