Per­fect sea­son fi­nale for Sam

Matamata Chronicle - - Motoring - DEN­NIS RYAN

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.’’

SUP­PLIED

Cham­pion ap­pren­tice Sam Weather­ley gets a con­grat­u­la­tory hug from his grand­par­ents Dan and Raewyn af­ter his Tau­marunui Cup win on Gen­tle Ton­ton.

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