First career win a start for jockey
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.
It had been a patient wait for O’Malley for his first winner, High Quality, in what was his 65th raceday ride.
NZ Senior Women’s team captain Erin Moore (in the black) in action against Spain during the world championships in Canada.
Sam O’Malley has every reason to smile.