The Collett surname is already well known in Australian racing thanks to the deeds of brother and sister jockey duo Jason and Alysha, but now dad Richard is muscling in on the action.
A successful trainer in New Zealand for many years, Richard Collett left his homeland in August to set up a permanent base in Sydney, along with his wife, his eldest daughter and her family, and 10 horses.
A desire to be closer to Jason and Alysha was the main reason for the Collett family’s relocation, although the New Zealand government’s lockdown of the racing industry during COVID was a significant contributor.
“We went through a period in New Zealand where we weren’t allowed to train our horses, they had to be turned out and that was a bit of a catalyst to coming over,” Richard Collett said.
“It was hard to understand how in New Zealand, we weren’t able to train or race them where in Australia, Jason and Alysha were riding on. I realised where our industry sat in New Zealand in the government’s eyes.
“It has been a big upheaval selling properties in New Zealand and then getting systems back in place here. We only brought across 10 horses to make the job easier that way.”
Collett is no stranger to Sydney having had a small satellite operation at Warwick Farm a few years ago, a stint that whet his appetite and gave him the confidence he could make a fist of things.
He saddled up his first runner since his move in October but will increase his presence with two horses at Rosehill on Saturday.
Super Strike lines up in the Furphy Handicap (1400m) after doing his best work late when midfield behind Coal Crusher at Newcastle’s Hunter meeting, while Super Pursuit resumes in the Kia Ora Prague Handicap (1100m).
Both “missed a whole cycle of racing”, Super Pursuit due mainly to New Zealand racing’s COVID shutdown and Super Strike through the COVID ban and niggling injuries.
“The pair we’ve got in on Saturday, one hadn’t raced for a year-and-a-half (Super Strike) and one hasn’t raced for a year,” Richard Collett said.
“Just getting them back to competitive race fitness has been the thing.”
While Collett expects Super Strike to shine once he steps up to a mile, Super Pursuit is an intriguing runner.
He boasts a win over Roch ‘N’ Horse, who subsequently came to Australia and captured two of the country’s biggest sprints, including last month’s Group 1 VRC Classic when he downed Nature Strip.
However, Collett is keeping his expectations in check and admits he is still feeling his way in terms of where his horses, including Super Pursuit, fit into the mix.
“He’s got plenty of ability,” Collett said.
“It’s hard to line up the quality of the opposition they’ve been beating in New Zealand. Roch ‘N’ Horse is a yardstick for sure, but we’re still on a learning curve with the upper-rated horses.”
Collett’s pair have drawn well in their respective races and Jason, who married his long-time partner, trainer Clare Cunningham on Monday, will be aboard both.