Allen makes winning start to riding career

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  • April 17, 2023
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Apprentice jockey Jessica Allen made the perfect start to her riding career at Te Rapa on Saturday when notching up her first win aboard Aotea Lad in the Traffic Management Waikato LTD 1400.

It was Allen’s first day of race riding and she was quietly confident of a bold performance from the Group Two winner, having tasted success aboard the gelding at the trials last month.

“It was really exciting to get that first win,” Allen said.

“He was the one I was the most excited about riding because I had ridden him in a couple of trials and he had gone really well in those for me.”

Allen is apprenticed to Te Akau trainer Mark Walker and she was pleased to reward his faith in her on Saturday.

“I started working for Te Akau a couple of months ago. I was going to Matamata once a week for track work and Mark approached me and offered me an apprenticeship and I thought I might as well give it a go and see what happens,” Allen said.

“It has been really good so far and it was great to get the win for Mark on Saturday.”

Allen has always had a love for horses and her interest in racing was piqued when she began to work in a stable during the school holidays.

“My family isn’t really horsey, but I always really liked horses and we got ponies when I was 10 or 11,” she said.

“I worked for Jeremy Whale when I was 15 over the school holidays and went from there.

“I am from Morrisville and in the mornings before school I would go over to Te Aroha to ride track work for Scott Wenn and after school I went freelancing in Cambridge and I was with Murray Baker for a few years.”

Allen kept her dream of becoming a jockey in check until a couple of years ago when she realised she would fit the stature.

“I always wanted to be a jockey but I thought I would get too tall or too big,” she said.

“When I was 18 and realised I would be small enough, I thought I would really knuckle down and give it a go.”

Walker has been impressed with Allen’s riding ability and was rapt for the 20-year-old when securing her first raceday win.

“He’s (Aotea Lad) an experienced horse and an ideal ride for Jess, and sometimes these types of horses really appreciate a quiet young rider and just do their best for them,” he said.

“He’s one of the stable favourites and a real gentleman. He had a float accident in the spring, we nursed him back to health, and good on the owners for sticking with him.”

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing riding master Noel Harris has also been pleased with Allen’s progress and he believes she has a bright future in the saddle.

“Jess has had a fantastic preparation before race day riding and those involved have been patient with her,” he said.

“I think the amount of trial rides she has had has helped her immensely and she’s come out and shown on her first day riding that she had the necessary skills to deal with it.

“She looked comfortable and she’s ended up with a winner and two fourths from three rides, so I am very happy with her.

“She’s very tidy on a horse and shows a lot of professionalism, so I’m very proud of her.”

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