South Island apprentice Tanya Jonker will renew her association with Howie Mathews’ Otaki stable on Saturday.
The Riccarton-based jockey will partner Group One prospect Sampson when he runs in the El Cheapo Cars Raukawa Cup (2100m) at Hawke’s Bay.
“She was with us for about 12 months and signed on as an apprentice, but she decided there were better opportunities down south and Kevin and Pam Hughes have supported her superbly,” Mathews said.
“We wanted a three kilo claimer and she knows the horse and it can only help her profile as well.”
Sampson was a bold last-start second in the Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m) at Trentham and will step out at Hastings ahead of another two-mile challenge.
“He’s well and he needs another run before the Auckland Cup,” Mathews said.
“You don’t often get a chance to run for $500,000 so we’ll be throwing our hat in the ring.”
Seventh in the Ellerslie feature two years ago, Sampson has trialled to Mathews’ satisfaction since the Wellington Cup.
“Buddy Lammas rode him at Foxton so he had about 60kg on his back and he came home nicely for third,” he said.
“Buddy was rapt with him and said he felt great, so at this stage we’re on target.”
Sampson has been a grand servant of the stable with his nine wins including successes in the Gr.2 Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m) and the Gr.3 Trentham Stakes (2100m).