Young jumps rider on win­ner

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - DENNIS RYAN Rac­ing colum­nist

The tri­als and tribu­la­tions en­dured by Reece Cole in his quest to be­come a jumps jockey were all made worth­while when the 22-year-old rode his first win­ner last Satur­day.

In the 28th race­day ride of his fledg­ling ca­reer, he brought home the Tony Autridge-trained Boy for an easy win in a maiden hur­dle race at Hast­ings. Just one race ear­lier Reece had to set­tle for sec­ond on Boy’s sta­ble­mate Le Bon Fin, adding yet another plac­ing to the string he had put to­gether since tak­ing out his jumps jockey’s li­cence at the start of last win­ter.

While those mi­nor plac­ings might have been frus­trat­ing, they were noth­ing com­pared to be­ing un­seated by both his jumps mounts at Te Aroha last Sun­day week.

Luck­ily he es­caped any se­ri­ous in­jury and was able to ful­fil his Hast­ings en­gage­ments on the Autridge-trained pair and now be able to re­flect with sat­is­fac­tion at break­ing his duck.

‘‘It’s good to get the mon­key off my back,’’ said Reece when the Mata­mata Chron­i­cle caught up with him ear­lier this week. ‘‘It could have hap­pened ear­lier with a bit of luck, but now that I’ve fi­nally done it I feel pretty good.

‘‘Do­ing it for Toby and on Boy is great. I’ve done all the school­ing on him and rode him when he fin­ished sec­ond in his first hur­dle start on Na­tional Jumps Day last Septem­ber.

‘‘I had also rid­den Le Bon Fin in his jump­ing tri­als and schools at home, so it was good to kick off the day with that sec­ond on him. ‘‘Maybe it would have been bet­ter to have won on them both, but I’m not com­plain­ing. I’ve got my first win, that’s the main thing.’’

Reece spent part of his child­hood in Mata­mata, hav­ing been born in North­land and re­turn­ing to his fa­ther Steve’s home­town un­til the fam­ily went back north, where he had his school­ing. As the nephew through his mother Joanne of for­mer suc­cess­ful jumps jockey Kim Burke and with other close con­nec­tions to rac­ing, it was not sur­pris­ing that he ven­tured down that path in his teens.

Grow­ing up in the Ruakaka re­gion, he rode track­work for lo­cal train­ers and, when he left high school, for South Auck­land-based Shaun Clot­wor­thy while he stud­ied for a sports science de­gree at Auck­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy. When he com­pleted his stud­ies in late 2013 Reece took a job with north­ern trainer Donna Lo­gan, lead­ing to a strap­per and work rider for the top filly Ris­ing Ro­mance, capped by her vic­tory in the Aus­tralian Oaks at Rand­wick in the au­tumn of 2014.

By this time Reece had made his mind up to try his luck as a jumps jockey and moved to Mata­mata with the back­ing of a num­ber of lo­cal train­ers, among them Bob and Toby Autridge, Peter Bros­nan and Glynn Brick.

‘‘ I couldn’t have got this far with­out the help from all those guys, they’ve been great with all the tips and of course the ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve had from rid­ing their horses,’’ Reece says.

‘‘My un­cle Kim has also been a big help. From the time I first sug­gested be­com­ing a jumps jockey he warned me that it wouldn’t be easy, be­fore I got too far I would have my falls and I would have to take the good with the bad.

‘‘He was right of course. Even though last week at Te Aroha was the first time I had fallen on race­day, I had fallen in my first ever jumps trial ride and I’d had a few more at the tri­als and dur­ing school­ing ses­sions.’’

Reece had to lit­er­ally suck it up af­ter his dou­ble-whammy at Te Aroha, nurs­ing both his bruises and his pride to en­sure he would be rid­ing the Autridge pair six days later at Hast­ings.

‘‘ The other guys knew both horses were go­ing to be good rides so I had to front up and ride work all week. It’s worth it though when you get a re­sult like that.’’

While win­ning is the name of the game, any jumps jockey will vouch for the thrill of rid­ing a clever jumper, some­thing that cer­tainly ap­plies to Reece’s week­end win­ner Boy.

‘‘He’s so ath­letic and quick on his feet,’’ says the brown’s great­est ad­mirer. ‘‘Ap­proach­ing the last fence he didn’t quite have it right but be­cause it was him, I knew we would make it.

‘‘He didn’t clear it by much but it was still enough. He picked him­self up and we were home.’’

Photo: NZ RAC­ING DESK

Boy takes the last fence at Hast­ings on Satur­day as Reece Cole rides him to a ca­reer-first jumps win.

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