An amateur jockey and owner of a chain of dental practices has ridden his way to success.
Sam Waley-Cohen’s day job is chief executive of Portman Healthcaree but his alter ego is one of the country’s leading amateur jump jockeys.
And Sam, 28, successfully rode his father’s horse, Long Run, to victory in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park last month.
The horse beat odds-on favourite Kauto Star, who was bidding for a fifth successive win in the race.
Sam founded Portman Healthcare in 2009 and now oversees a growing empire of eight dental practices.
On 15 January, Sam crossed the finishing line with the Portman logo emblazoned down his breeches, having taking on the mighty Kauto Star and BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Tony McCoy, in one of racing’s most prestigious races.
In winning, Sam became the first amateur jockey to win a ‘classic’ for nearly 30 years.
Sam says: ‘Balancing the demands of Portman and racing can be a challenge but, surprisingly, there are interesting similarities between dentistry and racing. Ultimately, they are both about the pursuit of excellence.
‘The basics that let you win need a foundation of uniformity. Each horse broadly needs the same care to flourish. Experts in each area are best able to deliver that. In simple terms, you need a lad, a trainer and a jockey. None of those individuals can do the others job! At the same time you need to respect the individuality of each horse to get the best performance.’
He argues many of the same principles can be applied to dentistry.
‘Portman was set up to be the anti-corporate; to reject the uniformity in ethos that can make corporate dentistry an uncomfortable bed-fellow with private dentistry while at the same time harness the strengths that corporate dentistry can bring. We professionalise the patient experience at both the front and back office, allow the clinician to focus on their dentistry, while at the same time nurturing the individual personality of practices.
‘To deliver that, you need to have people who are focusing on each specific area of the business; reception, accounts, HR, regulation, etc, but also who know the specific nuances of their patient base. That is how you get the best performance.’
Long Run is now second favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.