Sam rid­ing high with ap­pren­tice ti­tle

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - REX­INE HAWES

‘‘He has nat­u­ral abil­ity, he had to work on it, but Lance has been a huge help,’’ said Dar­ryn.

‘‘Lance is tough, but Sam has stuck it out and full credit to him. He is with the best teacher.

‘‘I see my­self in him and I am ex­tremely proud. He is liv­ing the dream.

‘‘I was ex­cited for him. I thought if he can get it out of his sys­tem and say he has rid­den on race day and half a dozen win­ners, well and good.

‘‘To achieve what he has, has ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions.’’

It’s far ex­ceeded Sam’s ex­pec­ta­tions too.

Sam says achiev­ing Ap­pren­tice of the Year was never his in­ten­tion, he just wanted to make a ca­reer as a jockey and fol­low in the foot­steps of his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther.

‘‘It was al­ways some­thing wanted to do.

‘‘It’s a pretty big adrenalin rush, hav­ing that 550 ki­los of mus­cle un­der­neath you.’’

Af­ter three years work­ing with the Wex­ford horses, Cam­bridge train­ers Craig Thorn­ton and Sam Lo­gan had Sam rid­ing Leg­nani in his first race meet in Ro­torua.

She placed last, but Sam’s first race is al­ways fresh in his mind.

‘‘It was a pretty big day, pretty ex­cit­ing.

‘‘I had never been in the start­ing gates be­fore or rid­den pro­fes­sion­ally, it was a big thing for me.’’ I

He didn’t place any bet­ter at the next few race meets, but he earned his first win on the back of trainer Ernie Grif­fiths horse, Mad­die Fae.

What made his first win even sweeter was it was achieved at his home track in Mata­mata and the wins just kept on com­ing.

‘‘Get­ting the Ap­pren­tice of the Year was a huge feel­ing, es­pe­cially been my sea­son of rid­ing.

‘‘Last sea­son I rode 67 win­ners, this sea­son I’d like to get to 80.

‘‘I re­ally want to just give it my best and do even bet­ter.

‘‘Dad and Lance watch ev­ery race. They are both as crit­i­cal as each other, they are the best two peo­ple to be help­ing me out.’’

Sam says he feels priv­i­leged to first full be learn­ing from Lance, who he de­scribes as tough but fair.

His long term goals are to race in Aus­tralia or Hong Kong, and he knows that when the time is right, he will get there.

‘‘Lance will let me know when I am ready and I’ll feel it in my­self.’’

And for Lance, there is no doubt in his mind that Sam will achieve his dreams.

‘‘He started off a bit slow, then he got go­ing, then he went through a bad patch, and then in last four months he has re­ally per­formed well.

‘‘Now he has just gone to the next level.

‘‘This will be the first time I have had a lead­ing ap­pren­tice in New Zealand, oth­ers have started with us and then gone on to be suc­cess­ful.

‘‘He is smart. He does the form, he knows the op­po­si­tion and that’s taken him a long way.’’

SUPPLIED

Horse trainer Dar­ryn Weather­ley, rid­ing along­side his son Sam, when Sam was just 14 years old.

NICOLE TROOST

Sam Weather­ley af­ter re­ciev­ing his Ap­pren­tice of the Year award, with his par­ents Dar­ryn and Louise, and sis­ters Briar and Paige.

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