Jason Laking gets his first win back onboard Frazzle
Photo: Wild Range Photography
Group One-winning rider Jason Laking has made a statement on his former home track of Wingatui where he posted a winning double in what is his comeback season as a professional jockey.
The Ashburton-based rider was successful on Friday aboard the Andrew Carston-trained Frazzle and the Shane Kennedy and Anna Furlong-trained Los Cabos.
“It was a pretty good feeling,” Laking said of his first winning rides since his initial retirement from the professional jockey ranks in the 2010-11 season. “I was lucky the horses were all primed and ready to go.”
He is best known for his association with New Zealand champion three-year-old and dual Group One-winner The Jewel, whose senior trainer Hec Anderton was Laking’s former riding master.
He rode The Jewel to eight of her 11 victories, including the Gr.1 New Zealand One Thousand Guineas (1600m) and highlighted her as the best horse he has ridden.
“I probably got her too early (in my riding career),” Laking said. “In hindsight it probably would have been better if I got her a little bit later.
“The Dennis boys (owners) were so loyal to me. It is just one of those buzzes that you get once and you always want to try and get it again.”
It is that winning feeling that enticed Laking out of retirement as he found he still had an itch to scratch after riding in a few amateur races in recent years.
“I had finished up because my weight was a bit heavy and Terry Kennedy asked me to ride one for him one day (in an amateur race) because you’re allowed to ride after three years away from being a professional,” he said.
“I kind of wanted to go back because I thought if I ride in an amateur race it might quench the thirst for riding and get it out of my system, but it made it worse and it made me want to come back even more.
“My weight had kind of steadied out a bit. I’ve obviously got a little bit older and changed my eating habits, not a lot of drinking and that sort of thing, so my weight started to come down a bit so I thought why not give it another go?”
Laking was duly rewarded on Friday, but it hasn’t come without hard work. He makes the 180km round trip from Ashburton to Riccarton racecourse a couple of times a week to ride work as well as holding down a full-time job at Midlands, a seed company, in Ashburton.
“I drive up to Riccarton from Ashburton (to ride track work) two to three days a week, predominantly for Shane Kennedy and Anna Furlong and I do one or two for Andrew Carston,” Laking said.
“They have got big teams in work and have got a lot of good horses. I have got a full-time job in Ashburton as well, so they work around that which is good.”
Laking said he also owes a lot to Midlands who have been really flexible in allowing him to follow his riding career.
“Chris Green who owns Midlands owns Planet Rock and has a few horses with Peter and Dawn Williams. They let me go to the races and trials and ride work, without them I probably wouldn’t be able to do it.
“To be honest, for a South Island jockey you have got to have a second income because it is hard to make money if you are just riding.”
With three children under the age of five, including a set of twins, as well as a full-time job, Laking is being kept very busy, but hopes to continue his winning ways in the saddle and break back into the South Island riding ranks.
“I haven’t really set myself any goals, I’m just trying to break back in really,” Laking said. “I’ll just get this season over and done with and then I’ll see what happens next season.
“I’m not going to do a lot of travelling down to Southland because I have got a young family and I still want to do good by my job that I have got here.
“I’ll just try and keep my weight under control and if things start going better I’ll sit down and try and do something about it.” – NZ Racing Desk.