Sam bringing home the winners
‘‘It’s a long way to the winning post at Te Aroha but Sam maintained his rhythm to get the best from the big bay.’’
Boyhood dreams of becoming a jockey are now being realised by 17-year-old Sam Weatherley, whose four wins in a short space of time have drawn plaudits from across the racing industry.
Sam brought home his first winner on his home track on June 1 at just his fourth raceday ride, and his career has continued apace with a double at Ruakaka last Saturday and another at Te Aroha on Sunday.
That fourth career win was special, his first for his mentor, former champion jockey Lance O’Sullivan.
The winning mount was Prize Lord, who is trained in partnership by Lance and Andrew Scott.
As noted when he rode Maddee Fae to her all-the-way win at Matamata three weeks ago and also with his Ruakaka double, Sam is being recognised for the way horses run for him.
Prize Lord, a son of dual Auckland Cup winner Prize Lady, also wanted to put himself right in the action from the start of the 1400-metre maiden race, but his young rider managed to settle him behind the leading group before lodging his bid at the top of the straight.
It’s a long way to the winning post at Te Aroha but Sam maintained his rhythm to get the best from the big bay and comfortably held out the Michael Coleman-ridden Oops Tommy.
Obvious talent combined with his current four-kilogram apprentice claim positions Sam well to make the most of his opportunities and become a successful third generation jockey in the tradition of his grandfather Dan and father Darryn.
The rewards these days for any aspiring jockey are almost boundless and with a combination of family support and mentoring from those with the wisdom of experience, Sam has it all front of him.
An example of what might await is a predecessor at Wexford Stables, Rory Hutchings, who likewise began his apprenticeship after being granted an exemption to leave Matamata College before the mandatory time.
Rory’s initial years were a mixture of natural ability and some lack of self-discipline, but his maturity enabled him to become champion New Zealand apprentice in 2013-14.
Nor did he stop there. He trans- ferred from the Rogerson stable to champion expat Chris Waller in Sydney and just last week he completed his indentures as Sydney’s top apprentice.
Matamata’s leading stable took a significant step towards another trainers’ premiership when Esprit de Corps won at Te Aroha on Sunday.
That marked a milestone century for Te Akau Racing partners Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards and in their first full season together put them seven wins clear of defending titleholders Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.
The powerful Te Akau operation has won five previous premierships, each of them last decade under the management of Mark Walker before he relocated to Singapore, where he has emulated his previous achievements with an off-shore premiership last year.
Sam Weatherley is all smiles as he returns in the Wexford Stables colours on his Te Aroha winner Prize Lord.