Catching National Apprentice Jockey Premiership leader Hazel Schofer may be a bridge too far for Kozzi Asano, but he is going to give it a good crack over the next two weeks.
The leading South Island apprentice currently trails his Taranaki-based adversary by 11 wins after he recorded a winning double at Ruakaka on Saturday, and he is intent on riding as much as he can to try and eke into Schofer’s lead.
“I have still got five or six meetings to go before the season finishes, but it is probably too far to catch Hazel,” Asano said.
“I’ll just see how much I can do. If I can catch Hazel that would be the best result, but it won’t be easy, 11 wins is a lot.
“I will just try and do my best and keep travelling over the next two weeks.”
Asano won the apprentice title last season and looked on track to defend his crown before he broke his collarbone in a race fall in May.
While it hampered his chances in the premiership, Asano said it was a blessing in disguise, admitting he needed the enforced break.
“I broke my collarbone and was out for six weeks, but at the same time, I think I needed the break. When I came back I felt so fresh,” he said.
Asano hasn’t been shy of travelling this season and was rewarded with a winning double at the country’s northern-most track, Ruakaka, on Saturday – Imaready in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1200m) for trainer Stephen Marsh, and New Dawn in the Bay Of Islands ITM Haruru (1200m) for trainers Shaun and Emma Clotworthy.
“It was great to get back on a few winners,” he said.
“Imaready finished third a couple of weeks ago at Ruakaka and I thought she was going to be a good chance on Saturday. I rode her positively in a small field. We beat the second horse by a small margin, but it was a big thrill.
“I had never ridden New Dawn before. She did it comfortably and found the line well.
“It was nice to get those results, especially up north.”
With more riding opportunities in the North Island, Christchurch-based Asano is devoting more of his time there after spending a few months at Wexford Stables in Matamata earlier this year.
“Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott helped me out a lot in improving my riding, and they have put me on a few winners as well, so that was great,” Asano said.
“Dean Williams is my riding agent and works hard to get me rides.”
Asano remained in the North Island after the weekend and will head to Avondale on Wednesday where he has a handful of rides, including La Casa in the Avondale Sunday Markets 2100 and debutant Jefferson in the Tulloch Café 1200.
“La Casa has been in good form, with a win and a fourth in his last two starts. I galloped him this morning and he went well,” Asano said.
“I am also riding Maitland for Tony Pike (in the Westbrook Cellar Door 1600). He galloped with La Casa this morning and he looked pretty good. I am happy with both of them ahead of Wednesday.
“I am also riding Jefferson for Annabelle Johnson. He looks pretty good and went well at the trials. I am looking forward to riding him.”