A winning double aboard Opalescence and Sinarahma at Awapuni on Saturday has the effervescent Sam Collett nicely situated near the top of the National Jockeys’ premiership as she positions herself for a run at a second title to place beside the inaugural trophy she claimed in the 2017-18 season.
Collett now sits just four wins behind South Island apprentice Kozzi Asano, who leads with fifty wins for the season to date, although her charge to the top will be halted briefly by an untimely suspension that will see her on the sidelines until December 30.
While disappointed in the circumstances that saw her weigh in light on maiden runner Lord Polonius at Ruakaka on December 17 and incur the suspension, Collett prefers to look on the bright side of the untimely break. “I feel really sorry for the connections of the horse at Ruakaka as he was disqualified and they lost their prizemoney because of my mistake, so hopefully I will be able to make that up to them one day,” Collett said.
“It does mean I won’t be riding at Ellerslie on Boxing Day or any of the other northern meetings until Taupo on the 30th so I guess I will be able to make a pig of myself on Christmas Day now instead. “I’m really lucky in that my weight is pretty good most of the time so maybe I can go back for seconds this year as I will have a few days to work the excess off.”
All jokes aside, Collett will being doing it tough on Boxing Day, watching on as exciting three-year-old Travelling Light lines up in the Listed Shaw’s Wires Ropes Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m), having piloted the El Roca filly to three consecutive victories before finishing a gallant third in the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton last month. “I went out to Ben Foote’s during the week and worked her (Travelling Light) and she feels fantastic,” Collett said. “She is such a lovey filly and I was really looking forward to riding her again so it’s going to be a tough watch when she runs on Boxing Day. “I wasn’t too sure what other rides I had on the day but that one is the one I will miss the most.”
Collett is still hoping to make a successful attack on one of the plum black-type features during the Ellerslie Christmas Carnival when she takes the mount on the Nigel Tiley-trained Riodini in the Group 2 Jamieson Park Auckland Guineas (1600m) on New Year’s Day. “Riodini is such a neat horse and I’m thrilled to be on him in the Guineas,” she said. “Nigel always has his horses turned out so well and this guy has done everything asked of him so far. “His last win at Ellerslie was really good so I’m expecting another top run on New Year’s Day.”
Now that she is near the lead in the premiership, Collett is keen for her agent Stu Laing to start looking for rides further afield in the coming months as she tries to build further momentum in her chase for the title. “Stu has taken over as my agent this year after Darryl (Anderson) moved to Hong Kong and we have clicked really well,” Collett said.
“I said at the start of the season that if we got to the new year and I was in premiership contention that I would like to travel a bit more to see if I could secure the extra wins needed to stay on top. “I really want a second title to go with my first one but I also know how much it took out of me that year, chasing wins all over the country. “I was pretty much exhausted at the end so last year I restricted the amount of travel I did just to try and get back on an even keel. “I’m feeling good so I would like to push myself to see if I can achieve that goal again.”