Former jumps jockey Reece Cole has enjoyed his transition into a career as a trainer and celebrated his first win in that role at Avondale last Saturday.
The Matamata horseman was delighted to welcome back Shocking Penny as his first winner following her triumph in the Westbrook – Flows From The Land (2200m), with Cole saying it was a sentimental occasion given the milestone was achieved nearly to the day since the passing of his good friend and mentor Toby Autridge last year.
“It is good to get it (win) quite early, it was only my third start,” Cole said.
“Toby Autridge and I were meant to go into a training partnership at the start of the season, but he passed away a year ago. It was nice to get my first win nearly to the day since he passed away last year.
“I had been riding work for Toby and all of his jumpers since I moved to Matamata nine years ago. He was a really good family friend of ours.”
Cole was rapt with the ride from leading apprentice jockey Tayla Mitchell and now he is eyeing hurdle assignments with Shocking Penny.
“She got ridden perfectly,” Cole said.
“She was still probably a run short, but she is going to be stepping out over hurdles in a month’s time, so these are just miles under her belt more than anything.
“We started schooling her two-and-a-half years ago, so we have just been building her up slowly.
“She may go to Te Rapa in a couple of weeks to have one final flat run before a hurdle race at Hawke’s Bay.”
Injury curtailed Cole’s riding career, and while he is enjoying his time as a trainer, he said it is a lot more stressful than when he was in the saddle.
“I did my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) a couple of years ago and I tore my PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) at the start of the year. I can still ride trackwork, but I can’t ride on raceday,” Cole said.
“I prefer being on them than watching them on the side-lines, it’s a bit more nerve-wracking, but they (jockeys) know what they are doing.”
Cole has enjoyed training for Autridge’s former clients and he said he has received plenty of support from local trainers since taking out his own license.
“I always wanted to train my own horse or two, but what we have set up here after Toby’s passing has been great,” he said.
“We have had good support from the original owners in the stable and Wexford have played a big part in supporting us as well with breakers and pre-trainers.
“I quite enjoy the breaking and pre-training and seeing the young ones come through.
“We have got 15 in work at the moment, including two racehorses. We got up to 32 with all of the breakers a couple of weeks after the Karaka sales earlier in the year. We have held that number all the way through until a couple of weeks ago.