Matamata apprentices deliver results
One of racing’s most discussed topics is the lack of depth in our apprentice jockey ranks, so it’s heartening to see Matamata’s junior riders holding up their end of the bargain.
Saturday’s Tauranga race meeting was a case in point, when Sam Weatherley notched a double to take his tally at the top of the apprentice table to 44, and Anna Jones chimed in with a clever winning ride on Woodsman in the day’s feature staying race.
Taking up the running in the Bay of Plenty Cup, Anna let the grey stroll along in front before letting the brakes off with 700 metres to run and establishing an unassailable lead.
At the line Woodsman had the race in the bag for trainer Tony Gillies, who races him in partnership with his wife Pam and stable stalwart Roy Thompson.
For 25-year-old Anna Jones, it was another big win to go with Our King Sway’s Gr. 3 Taranaki Cup victory in February, which had completed her first century of wins and with that, the loss of her apprentice claim.
Having to ride on equal terms with senior jockeys and thereby getting fewer opportunities can be a challenge for apprentices, however it certainly hasn’t hindered another local, last season’s champion junior, Shaun McKay.
His last win for 2015-16 was also his 100th, and since then he has notched up another 30.
That might not compare with the 70 wins he notched last term, but it still has him in the top 20 on the national jockeys’ premiership, proof enough that at age 20 he is holding his own against all- comers.
The apprentice title currently held by Shaun looks like staying in town when the season ends on July 31, with another Matamataborn and raised lad, Sam Weatherley, making great strides less than a year after donning silks.
The 17-year-old rode his first winner in early June and added another seven before the end of last season.
At the two-thirds stage of the current term his tally stands at 44, with a double on Chicane and Ruby Bloom at Tauranga latest achievement.
The fact that both those horses are trained in Cambridge, and his recent Auckland Cup day winner Sultan Of Swing hails from Ruakaka underlines the broad base to his success. his
That’s one part of Sam’s development as a jockey, which also includes an impressive range of tactical skills, all of which are honed by the support group he has around him, headed by his employer, former champion jockey Lance O’Sullivan.