Southern course brings reward
The South Island’s premier racecourse proved a fruitful hunting ground for Matamata jockeys Samantha Collett and Reese Jones last weekend.
A single win at Woodville on Thursday had taken Sam’s tally for the 2016-17 season to 56, equalling her career-best set last season, and she headed down to Riccarton on Saturday morning with the prospect of a full book of rides providing the means to a new personal best.
So it proved, with a winning double that included her sixth black type win of the season as she partnered Cambridge filly Nikita to victory in the Warstep Stakes.
Last season Sam’s 56 wins and multiple placings by her raceday mounts had taken her past a combined stake-earnings figure of $1 million for the first time and she’s in sight of seven-figures again just a touch short of $900,000 with more than three months of the season remaining.
Another interesting statistic is her overall number of raceday mounts.
Last season Sam’s 924 rides were the most of any jockey in New Zealand and her busy countrywide schedule again has her similarly positioned on 669 rides along with another career best, equal sixth place on the jockeys’ premiership.
At 26, Sam has age and attitude on her side as she looks to the next 33 wins that will take her to 500 and closer to the six-figure tallies of her jockey parents, former champion Jim Collett and Trudy Thornton, who is still riding at age 53.
Reese Jones took his career tally to 600 wins late last season, but it was another milestone that brought possibly more personal satisfaction on the weekend.
Victory in the final race at Riccarton signed off an important missing element on his list of achievements, a first ever win in the South Island.
The irony is that Barry Reese Jones – known to his mates as ‘Breeze’ – was born and raised in South Canterbury, where his late father Barry was a successful Washdyke trainer.
He began his apprenticeship at home, riding in trials at age 14, but as a 15-year-old he went north to continue his apprenticeship with noted mentor Jim Gibbs.
He rode more than 90 winners in the second and third years of his apprenticeship and after coming out his time he remained in Matamata, apart from a stint riding in Queensland.
In the 30 years that have gone by, every one of Reese’s 605 New Zealand wins prior to last weekend had been on North Island tracks, but Pinsraad in the final race at Riccarton provided the southern breakthrough.
‘‘It’s been a long time coming so it was good to get my first winner down south,’’ says Reese.
‘‘I actually rode a horse called Paw Patrol to win at Wingatui a couple of years ago but we had the race taken off us when I weighed in a kilo light.
‘‘It turned out the lead bag was left out when they saddled him up.’’
Pinsraad, who is trained at Otaki by former Matamata horseman Howie Mathews, was one of just two rides on Saturday, the other a much better performed stablemate Sampson.
Reese had already ridden that horse to wins this year in the Gr. 2 Awapuni Gold and Gr. 3 Trentham Stakes, but he was foiled by the puggy track conditions from adding the Canterbury Gold Cup.
Samantha Collett notches a personal best of 58 wins as she brings home Nikita (centre) home in the Warstep Stakes at Riccarton.