First ca­reer win a start for jockey

Horowhenua Chronicle - - SPORT - By PAUL WIL­LIAMS

He might be the tallest jockey in New Zealand but Sam O’Mal­ley had a smile just as wide af­ter notch­ing up his first ca­reer win­ner last week.

The 19-year-old guided Levin geld­ing High Qual­ity home in the $11,000 Mer­rylees Ho­tel 2100m at Woodville ear­lier this month in a man­ner that sug­gested he won’t have to wait too long for his next win­ner.

It was a con­fi­dent ride to as­sert a prom­i­nent po­si­tion as the field turned into the straight, ag­gres­sive tac­tics that earned praise from the horses’ Levin trainer Ge­off Haigh, to whom O’Mal­ley was ap­pren­ticed.

“He’s rid­den some nice races

. . . he just needed a lit­tle bit of luck and more con­fi­dence but he’s pick­ing it up now and go­ing great guns,” he said.

Stand­ing at “five-foot 12 inches”, there would be few jock­eys in the world taller than O’Mal­ley rid­ing in flat races.

It begged the ques­tion, how does he man­age to tip the scales on race­day at 54.5kg?

There was no crash diet lead­ing up to race­day though, other than sen­si­ble eat­ing. He was just blessed with a slim build and “light bones”.

“I don’t do any­thing hor­rific. I don’t have to starve my­self,” he said.

It had been a pa­tient wait for O’Mal­ley for his first win­ner in what was his 65th race­day ride, al­though he had racked up nu­mer­ous plac­ings and photofin­ishes and could be con­sid­ered un­lucky not to have bro­ken maiden ranks much sooner.

While he had grown up rid­ing horses there was never any thought to be­com­ing a jockey as it was as­sumed he would grow too heavy.

But when he turned 16 years old it be­came ap­par­ent that he was ex­tremely light for his stature, and the idea of be­com­ing a fully-fledged jockey ap­pealed as a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion.

With the first win­ner now in the bank, O’Mal­ley was keen to set a goal for the sea­son that be­gan Au­gust 1.

“I want to try and ride 30 win­ners this year. It sounds a lot but if I can ride three a month

. . .,” he said.

He also hoped to con­tinue his good as­so­ci­a­tion with High Qual­ity in the com­ing months and was ex­cited about the prospect of rid­ing top Manakau horse Dol­cetto this week­end, whom he fin­ished sec­ond aboard last start.

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It had been a pa­tient wait for O’Mal­ley for his first win­ner, High Qual­ity, in what was his 65th race­day ride.

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NZ Se­nior Women’s team cap­tain Erin Moore (in the black) in ac­tion against Spain dur­ing the world cham­pi­onships in Canada.

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Sam O’Mal­ley has ev­ery rea­son to smile.

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