Expat New Zealand jockey Sam Collett will make a fleeting return to New Zealand this weekend to ride at Awapuni’s feature meeting on Saturday.
Collett has answered the call of Taranaki trainer Bill Thurlow, who she has a great association with, having recorded her first Group One success aboard the Thurlow-trained Glory Days in the 2019 Auckland Cup (3200m).
Her primary mount of the meeting will be No Rain Ever, who will line-up in the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).
It will be the filly’s fourth career start, having finished runner-up in each of her three prior outings.
“I was approached by Bill Thurlow’s daughter because they were looking for a rider for their filly, No Rain Ever, in the Sires’ Produce, and Darlington County on the supporting card,” Collett said.
“It would be nice to ride another winner for Bill and the owners. She has had three super races without winning one and she has been close to it. The 1400m looks ideal for her, so fingers-crossed for a good draw.”
It will be a hit-and-run mission for Collett, who will spend less than 48 hours in her homeland, with riding commitments back in Queensland on Sunday.
“I will head back pretty early on Sunday morning because I have got to be back to ride at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday, so it is a very fleeting visit,” she said.
“I can’t be taking too many days off, but the Saturday meeting over here was pretty quiet. I was confident I would go close to getting a full book of rides at home, so with no Friday races I am able to fly home and be back early enough for Sunday races.
“I was flattered to get the call and I am pleased that I can help them out.”
Prior to Collett’s return home she is hoping to snare a couple of victories to edge her closer to the 1000-win mark, which she would love to bring up back in New Zealand.
“I am five winners off the 1000, so it is getting close,” she said.
“It would be nice to get a couple of winners before I head home and maybe get that 1000th winner on Saturday, that would be pretty special.”
In reaching the milestone, Collett would join both her father, Jim Collett, and mother, Trudy Thornton, in the coveted club.
“I don’t know if it has been done anywhere before (daughter and parents winning 1000 races) but it is something that will be really special for me,” she said.
“It is a milestone that I have had set for a little while now. It has taken a little while with trying to build up momentum over here in Brisbane. Winning rides were hard to come by for a little bit. I am within reach now, which is exciting.”
While it will be a fleeting return this weekend, Collett is set to spend more time back in New Zealand early next season to oversee the sale of her Waikato property.
“I have made plans to come home at the end of August because it has been a little bit tricky paying a mortgage back home in New Zealand and paying rent in Brisbane, which is fairly expensive,” she said.
“My plan at this stage is for my partner and I to come home to New Zealand at the start of the new season and put up my place for sale and then look to relocate back to Brisbane.
“It all depends how long it takes to sell as to how long I am sticking around for.
“Ideally I am back in Brisbane for the Winter Carnival. I don’t want to be away for too long if I can help it because I have worked so hard to keep my contacts up (in Queensland). Being away would almost be like starting again, but I have to do it.
“Home will always be New Zealand because my family is there, but in terms of riding, in Queensland the prizemoney and climate is a bit better. Although I think I have whinged about the heat in recent weeks, so it is going to be a rude awakening coming back home.
“The perks of riding here means I can be busy all year round. Financially, if I want to be doing the best thing by myself, I have to put all of my eggs in one basket and that is why selling my place at home is my only option.
“I haven’t been able to find a suitable tenant for it since I have been here and with interest rates going up, it is only going to get harder.
“It is hard because I love the place I have got, but I can’t keep pulling myself in both directions.”