Perfect season finale for Sam
A hat-trick and a career-first black-type win at Rotorua on Saturday made a perfect 2016-17 season finale for champion apprentice Sam Weatherley.
Just 14 months after riding his first winner, Sam made no race of the 2016-17 apprentice jockeys’ premiership.
When the season ended on Monday, his 67 wins represented a margin of 19 over his nearest rival, South Islander Jacob Lowry.
Next on the table with 47 wins was fellow Matamata lad and last year’s champion apprentice, Shaun McKay.
Sam already had the title sewn up when he arrived at Rotorua’s Arawa Park racecourse on Saturday morning, but the icing on the premiership cake was his mid-programme hat-trick.
That began in the fifth race on Bowie, from the stable of premiership-winning trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, continued in the $65,000 Taumarunui Gold Cup on Gentil Tonton, and was completed in the seventh race when he brought home Mandalay a six-length winner for leading lower North Island trainer Kevin Myers.
Up until a month ago Gentil Tonton had been trained by Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott, and
‘‘A black-type win was missing from my record, so it was good to get that ticked off.’’
as the stable apprentice Sam had ridden the horse into third in his final start before transferring to John Bell.
Never backward in coming forward, Sam convinced the Cambridge trainer that it would be worth his while to not change jockeys, and so he proved with a masterly ride in the Rotorua feature.
‘‘A black-type win was missing from my record, so it was good to get that ticked off,’’ says the 18-year-old.
‘‘This time last year I had no idea I would be where I am now, but when the winners kept coming, a few months ago we decided to have a crack at the apprentice title.
‘‘I took on an agent, Lance with his experience and everyone at Wexford have been great and so have a lot of other trainers and owners giving me rides.
‘‘I’ve got some time off booked next week and then I’ll be fresh to get into the new season.
‘‘I haven’t got any special goals, just keep riding winners I suppose, but maybe 80 wins might be something to shoot for.’’
Champion apprentice Sam Weatherley gets a congratulatory hug from his grandparents Dan and Raewyn after his Taumarunui Cup win on Gentle Tonton.