Passion paying off for Tait at Ascot Park

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  • May 14, 2024
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Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk
13 May 2024

Leading southern apprentice jockey and registered nurse Denby-Rose Tait fittingly celebrated International Nurses’ Day with a winning double at Ascot Park on Sunday.

Originally hailing from Hawke’s Bay, Tait ventured to the Garden City to become a nurse, and soon found herself balancing a three-year degree with a jockey apprenticeship.

“I am a fully registered nurse now, which is quite exciting, although I’m not practising at the moment,” Tait said.

“When I graduated last year, I took a step back and decided I really wanted to give my all and commit to becoming the best jockey I can be.”

She completed the early portion of her apprenticeship under Ross Beckett, and midway through the season she elected to change over to the stable of Terri Rae, based out of Riccarton Park.

The move had Tait on the sidelines for eight weeks through February and March, after accumulating 16 winners in the first half of the season and topping the South Island-based apprentice ranks. The 23-year-old made the most of the time with a trip home, before commencing her term under Rae’s guidance.

“Before I started with Terri, I took 10 days off and went home which was my longest stint away from work and Christchurch in four years. It was amazing to be around my family,” Tait said.

“I want to be riding at my best and even though being a jockey can be all-consuming, I think it is really important to maintain that balance and just be a happy human.”

Despite enjoying her time away from the saddle, Tait was counting down the days to her return, and soon picked up where she left off saluting at the Riccarton Synthetic meeting aboard Rae’s mare Morning Star.

The momentum continued on Sunday at the Wairio Cup meeting, where she guided Sally McKay’s pair of Industrialist and La Opcion to victory in successive races in the two Rating 65 1400m contests.

Tait had ridden McKay’s talented sprinter Henry Hubber to success earlier in the season and was thrilled to deliver a double for the local horsewoman.

“I have had a bit to do with Sally’s team, she is a great person to deal with and it makes my job a lot easier when the horses are trained and prepared as well as Sally’s are,” Tait said. “It was a super effort by her and the horses.

“I am so thankful to have so much support from owners and trainers after such a long stint on the sidelines as well.”

Tait also paid significant credit to her new employer for the success.

“Coming to Terri’s has reignited my passion not only for racing, but also being around the horses, so I’m loving it, and everything is going really well,” she said.

“The way she runs her stable is immaculate and she’s an incredible horsewoman and trainer.

“I’m really appreciative of the opportunities she has given me, as well as the feedback and constructive criticism on my race-day rides. It’s second to none, and I want to keep improving as much as I can with her guidance.

“Hopefully moving into the later part of the season I can really emulate what she has taught me at the races.”

Tait hopes to add to her tally at the Riccarton Park Synthetic meeting on Thursday, where she noted two of Russell McKay and Ashley Harrington’s runners to be strong contenders.

“I have four rides for Riccarton at the moment, including little Maggie McMuffin who ran a really brave third at the last synthetic meeting in the 1400. She’ll be back in the 1200 which I think will suit her style of running,” she said.

“Royce Roca is another of my rides, she’s a grand old campaigner who dug really deep and came back into form at my last start on her.

“I have full faith that the McKay team will be ready to go, and hopefully they’ll both produce another brave run.”

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