New Zealand’s busiest jockey extended her lead in the National Jockey’s Premiership with a winning treble at Trentham on Saturday.
Off the back of her best year to date, where she bagged a career high eighty winners in the 2016-17 season, Samantha (Sam) Collett has her foot firmly on the accelerator as she attempts to secure her first premiership.
Collett picked up victories on the John Bary trained High Spirits and Smokin Oak along with another Hawkes Bay runner in Xpression, which saw her extend her lead to eight over cousin Alysha Collett in the race for the title.
“It was a great start to the day and I was thrilled to ride a double for John Bary as he has been a great supporter of mine throughout my career so far,” she said.
“High Spirits is a horse I seem to click with although she is a funny wee thing in that you never quite know whether she is on her game when you get on her. On Saturday we were just plugging away and then she just seemed kick into gear and nothing was going to stop her winning.
“John has done a great job with Smokin Oak as he can be a bit insecure. He jumped well, and I didn’t want to fight him, so I let him roll along and he produced a nice kick.
“I was also thrilled for Guy Lowry, Grant Cullen and the connections of Xpression as it was a big ask backing her up after her first run just eight days ago.
“She is a lovely filly who is only going to get better as she matures so I think she has a nice future ahead of her.”
Although delighted with the success she enjoyed Collett’s day was tinged with some disappointment after her mount Miss Wilson failed to fire in the Gr. 1 Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) later on the programme.
“Things just didn’t go our way in the big race, which was a shame as I think everyone was expecting a big run from her,” she said.
“That’s how it can pan out at times, but she is too good a mare not to bounce back from the disappointment, so I expect to see her back to winning form again pretty quickly.”
Having already taken 368 rides this season, the most of any jockey competing in New Zealand,
Collett believes the work she has done on both her physical and mental fitness along with the maturity that comes with experience has been crucial in her run of success.
“I think I’m probably as fit as I’ve ever been which is necessity given the amount of riding I’ve been doing,” she said.
“Being in top shape has really helped me and I also think I’ve definitely matured in my outlook on my riding which comes about with the more of it that you do.
“Being able to think and act instinctively about situations that come up during a race comes with experience and that is now starting to pay off for me.
“I’m also very lucky that I’ve managed to get on some nice horses and with winning comes confidence which is also crucial.”
With the busy Christmas racing period about to start in earnest Collett’s services are sure to be in hot demand although she admits she is looking forward to a new initiative at Ellerslie this Wednesday where she will compete in the Auckland Racing Club’s inaugural Jockey World Cup Prelude.
“I heard about the concept about a month ago and told them I was keen to be involved so when they formally invited me I jumped at the chance,” she said.
“It will be great to compete against the Aussie jockeys who are coming, while I’m also looking forward to being part of the team with Alysha (Collett) and Danielle (Johnson).
“I’ve managed to get some pretty good rides including Sarabande for my dad (Jim Collett) which was a bit of a laugh when we saw the draw. He had said he had a 25% chance of drawing a Collett with three of us competing, so he got his wish.”