Apprentice notching up the wins
Anna Jones is delightfully grasping the opportunity New Zealand racing has afforded her, reports Tim Ryan.
Young Englishwoman Anna Jones, 22, is loving her unexpected involvement in New Zealand racing and equally, New Zealand racing is fast taking a shine to her skills as an emerging talent among the country’s apprentice jockey ranks.
When introduced to New Zealand by Matamata bloodstock consultant, Ric Wylie, Jones was as a stud hand at Valachi Downs, the boutique Hinuera Valley stud owned by Christchurch businessman Kevin Hickman.
Wylie travels regularly to the northern hemisphere and encountered Jones on one of his trip. He arranged a job for her and she arrived in October 2011.
She quickly realised that, unlike in England, many New Zealand jockeys were female.
Well versed in riding trackwork she had the urge to join those young ladies on the track.
Some time during the yearling season at Valachi Downs she discussed the matter with Hickman and stud manager Basil Treymane. As luck would have it, Matamata trainer Karen Fursdon, one of Hickman’s trainers, was visiting that day and before she knew it Jones had a job and was back riding.
She signed on with Fursdon in April 2012 and has a working visa until the completion of her apprenticeship in three years.
She has grabbed her opportunity and has ridden 16 winners in her short time in the saddle with 15 this season which is quite remarkable.
On Saturday at Ruakaka she produced a copybook ride to win on Royal Sceptre for astute Cambridge trainer, Ross McCarroll, a man who is not easily impressed.
‘‘Anna rode the horse brilliantly,’’ McCarroll said. ‘‘She did exactly what I asked.’’ Royal Sceptre, a $4500 weanling buy for McCarroll and fellow Cambridge owner Wayne Dollimore, was recording his third win from 18 starts.
Jones was back in the winner’s stall again at Matamata yesterday aboard Maestro Tom.
Settled well back early, Jones brought the 3-year-old son of Patapan with a perfectly timed run on the heavy track to head off So You Think’s three-quarter brother and $800,000 yearling buy, Packing Chaparral, who was game in defeat, and tearaway pacemaker, Pockets.
Maestro Tom is trained by Jones’ boss for long-time clients and stable supporters, Kate and Robin Jackson. Jones deeply appreciates the support she gets from stable clients.
One of her favourite horses, Hickman’s Sir Elmo,has provided three of her 16 wins, the most recent two Saturdays back at Tauranga by seven lengths.
‘‘A lot of Matamata trainers support me and I try and do my best for them,’’ Jones said.
‘‘When I get on a horse I want to do my best and I try and improve each and every time.’’
Back home her family is heavily involved in the thoroughbred industry. Her father, brother and sister-in-law ride out for Peter Chapple-Hyam and her mother does stud work.
‘‘The first thing they do in the morning when they get up at 4.30 is log on to the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing website and watch my race rides, they are over the moon with the wins I’m having.’’