Apprentice salutes aboard veteran performer

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  • May 30, 2023
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Youth and experience successfully combined at Pukekohe Park where apprentice Joe Nishizuka posted the first win of his fledgeling career.

The 20-year-old had placed in three of his previous 16 race day rides and it was veteran galloper No Loitering who provided him with his breakthrough victory in Saturday’s JRA Trophy Handicap (1500m).

Nishizuka enjoys a close association with the 10-year-old as he is apprenticed to the gelding’s Te Aroha-based trainer and part-owner Iain Marks.

“It was great to win on him as I ride him every day. He’s nice and easy to ride, but in the tie-up stalls he can be quite aggressive,” he said.

The Japanese-born jockey has been with Marks for the last 18 months following a year with pre-trainer, breaker and sales vendor Derek Nolan at Lilywhites Lodge.

“I’ve also worked for Grant Cooksley and with Jeremy Whale and Bruce Harvey,” Nishizuka said.

“In total, I’ve been in New Zealand for about 14 or 15 years. I was here with my family for about 10 years and went back for three years and later came back and been here ever since.”

Nishizuka is from a family immersed in the thoroughbred industry and with experience in New Zealand.

“My parents Kenji and Meg have a horse club in Japan now and my brother and sister are also involved,” he said.

“We all came to New Zealand in 2004 and my parents did pre-training and breaking in and sent a lot of horses to Japan.

“They plotted around a lot and for the last five years they were at Kawerau near Rotorua before they went back.”

Despite an early hiccup, Nishizuka was able to carry out Mark’s instructions to the letter aboard No Loitering.

“We had an idea that Crystallize was going to lead so I was told to sit half a-length off it. Because it’s a long straight, Mr Marks said wait and then make a move and that was Plan A,” he said.

“Obviously, the horse got an early check but we were still able to get up there and make it with Plan A.”

Nishizuka’s performance aboard No Loitering, who has now won 11 of his 95 starts, drew rich praise from Marks.

“It was a nice ride from Joe after he got squeezed at the start and then went forward, he’s a horse that loves to be up there and always tries his best,” Marks said.

“I can’t fault Joe, he listens and he wants to get to the top. He’s got the right attitude and is very professional.”

The rising 11-year-old No Loitering is likely to make his next appearance at Ruakaka on Saturday week.

“There’s an open 2100m there for him and after that I’ll probably give him a good break before I bring him back again, he’ll tell us when he’s done” Marks said.

“He came through the race really well and always tries his heart out.”

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