Sam on target to milestone
A winless weekend hasn’t deterred 18-year-old Sam Weatherley from his primary goal for the 2016-17 racing season, the New Zealand apprentice jockeys’ title.
One win at last Wednesday’s Te Teko race meeting took Sam’s season tally to 58, which with six weeks remaining to the end of the season gives him a handy buffer of 14 wins over his closest rival, Otago apprentice Jacob Lowry.
This time last year fellow Matamata apprentice McKay was well on the way to his own apprentice title, which he achieved with 70 wins that took his career tally to exactly 100. Reaching the century also meant the loss of apprentice claim, and Shaun has done well since having to ride against senior jockeys on equal terms to ride 41 winners this season.
When Sam hit 60 career wins last month his claim was reduced to one kilogram and while that has impacted to some degree on his number or raceday rides and he knows it’s not over till it’s over, he’s feeling comfortable in the countdown to July 31.
‘‘Everything’s ticking over nicely, I can’t complain so far,’’ says Sam. ‘‘I’m staying ahead of the pack and if I can keep getting a winner here or there I’m hoping to end the season on top.’’
With a father and grandfather who both rode successfully, and having Hall Of Fame jockey Lance O’Sullivan as his employer, Sam has a wealth of sound advice to guide him.
‘‘I’m so lucky to have them, plus there’s the apprentice mentor Noel Harris to help me and senior jockeys like Mickey Coleman who are a big help,’’ he says.
‘‘If someone had said to me three years ago that I was going to be leading the apprentice premiership I wouldn’t have believed them. It just goes to show what you can achieve if you believe in yourself.’’
‘‘I'm staying ahead of the pack and if I can keep getting a winner here or there I'm hoping to end the season on top.’’
Sam Weatherley has a handy break on his rivals as he eyes the apprentice jockeys’ premiership.