Skip to main content
email usour twitterour facebook page
Trackside Radio
my account
Latest Posts

 New Zealand Gallops News 
Sunday, August 13 2017

Central districts apprentice Kate Cowan is still coming to terms with her rapid rise to prominence.

Kate Cowan aboard Nashville - Race Images South

In the space of six months, she has gone from cheering her parents’ horse to a January Group One victory to beginning her riding career a month later and subsequently winning her first stakes race in August.

That victory came in the Gr.3 Winter Cup at Riccarton aboard the evergreen Nashville who is prepared at Hunterville by her employer Adrian Bull. He trains in partnership with his son Harry, who is Cowan’s partner.

“It was amazing,” she said. “I’m still not getting over it, it’s still not real, those things just don’t happen.”

Cowan’s Riccarton celebrations didn’t end there either as she rode a winning treble there last Saturday with her favourite Nashville claiming the open sprint while the 24-year-old was also successful aboard Southern Cool and Standrews Masonic.

Her progress is even more significant, given two years ago she had never even ridden track work.

The daughter of former jumps jockey now trainer Alex “Snooky” Cowan, said she never had any ambitions of following her father into the racing game. That was until inspiration struck nearly two years ago.

She had originally embarked on a teaching career after receiving a scholarship, before moving on to work for Latitude Magazine and CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority). While at CERA she spent two winters in America working at a summer camp.

“I taught drama and a bit of horse riding from my much younger pony club days,” she said.

“Then the next winter I went back to the summer camp and ran the drama department, which was pretty cool.”

Her return from her second trip to America was a pivotal moment in Cowan’s life as this is when she decided she wanted to be a jockey.

“We always had horses when I was growing up. I did a little bit of pony club when I was younger, but not too much,” she said.

“I never thought I’d do it, but as I got older I saw the life that my family had. Everything we had was because of horses. I took it all in and thought this (riding) might not be a bad idea.

“When you get to a certain age you need to settle down and focus on something that is going to work for you. It was a logical choice in the end.”

What tipped the scales for Cowan was watching the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

“When I saw Michelle Payne win the Melbourne Cup that really inspired me, not just for winning but the way she spoke on television. I really loved it,” Cowan said.

“I thought that was pretty incredible and her whole story was inspiring. That got me thinking and I thought why not?

“I said to my Dad I wanted to do it, but he didn’t really take me seriously because I had never previously shown much interest. Time went on and I was still saying it and that’s when he finally relented and sent me away to learn how to ride.”

Her father sent her north to learn under former jockey Nigel Tiley at Pukekohe, an eye-opening experience for Cowan.

“I had never ridden track work before,” she said. “But I thought ‘how hard could this be when I first arrived’. But as it turned out, it was very hard and I had a horse bolt on me on the first day – I did several laps of the track.”

She worked for Nigel and Lee Tiley for three months before moving south to the central districts to work for Kevin Myers.

“I went to Kevin for about a year and a-half. That’s where I got the experience I needed under my belt because it was either sink or swim.

“It didn’t matter if you bolted, you just got on with it and went on to the next one. That is how I learnt – from doing it.”

She began race riding in February and rode her first winner in just a few weeks when victorious on the Aidan Schumacher-trained Kolee at Hawera in March.

Now Cowan has won her first stakes race and said the only goals she has set herself is to improve as a rider.

“Right now I just want to keep learning and keep getting better. It is all about learning and improving and I just want to be a good rider, that’s the main thing.”

It has also been an exciting year for Cowan’s parents Snooky and Tracey. Not only has their daughter excelled on the race track, they also experienced their first Group One success when Signify was victorious in the Gr.1 Telegraph at Trentham in January.

The couple purchased Signify out of Wentwood Grange’s draft at New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2013 South Island mixed sale for $5500.

Posted by: AT 02:04 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email