Popular Central Districts rider Robbie Hannam will honour a commitment he made to leading trainer Vital Deshmukh last year when he flies out to Hyderabad on Monday to commence his third riding stint in India.
Hannam is excited about returning to complete some unfinished business after a similar contract was cut short last year when he broke two bones in his leg in a nasty starting gate incident.
“I’m looking forward to going back as I was really enjoying myself last year until the accident,” he said.
“I’d ridden about 15 winners at the time and things were going well, but the accident put a bit of a dampener on all that.
“I spoke with Vital at the time and we agreed that if we were both keen we would try it again this year.
“He has kept in touch and I was keen to go back so we negotiated a contract and I’m heading up there for about four months with the option to stay on for a similar period after that if it is all going well.”
Hannam admits conditions have changed in the Indian racing scene since his first visit just over 23 years ago, when an advertisement in the now defunct racing publication, the Friday Flash, triggered his first offshore venture.
“I answered an ad in the Friday Flash that was looking for someone to ride trackwork and races back then,” he said.
“I ended up staying there for three years, rode plenty of winners and made some great contacts.
“The tracks up there are big and roomy although the standard of racing is probably a little lower than back here.
“The main thing I noticed when I went back last year was most of the guys I had ridden against were now training.
“That and the improvement in the facilities on-course which are first class. In the jockey’s room there is a sauna and gym while they are very safety conscious with at least three ambulances at the track plus a large dedicated medical room and staff.”
Hannam will take a wait and see approach to his riding stint when it comes to deciding upon extending his contract past the initial four-month period.
“The contract I have is very good and if I can ride a few winners then it will be successful financially for me,” he said.
“All my expenses in regard to travel, accommodation and meals are covered so that is a great help.
“At the end of the four months I will need to look at the viability of staying on versus what I could expect back here at home.
“My wife Kim can’t come up for the initial period as she has work commitments, but she is booked to visit in September and we can discuss what we do next at that time.” – NZ Racing Desk