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