Have saddle, will travel. That’s the policy being adopted by Bridget Grylls in her bid to reinstate herself on the New Zealand racing scene.
The Te Awamutu-born 25-year-old jockey returned home just over a month ago after four years in Queensland and has wasted no time showing her talent.
She notched her first win back on the local scene when successful on Pink Graffiti at Hastings on July 19 for Cambridge trainer Tony Pike and landed a bigger prize last Saturday when guiding Rodrico to victory in the Woods Contracting Taumarunui Gold Cup (2200m) at Rotorua for the country’s champion trainers, Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.
Since she has been back, Grylls has already had 39 rides and picked up 10 placings to go with her two wins and she has given notice she is ready to travel far to get the opportunities, as she showed when competing at Timaru last Friday.
“I’m used to travelling a long way,” she said. “I was doing a lot of travelling in Queensland, often going north to country meetings for rides and I even went over the border into New South Wales occasionally.
“I’m not afraid to travel. I just want to get established again over here.
“I hope the win on Rodrico last Saturday has helped. It was great to get that one. It’s just a pity it wasn’t a still a stakes race. I’ve never won a stakes race, though I won a couple with good prizemoney in Queensland.”
This was the first year the race lost its Listed status, but Grylls can take heart from following in the Taumarunui Cup footsteps of her late grandfather, John Grylls, a successful jockey and one of the real characters of his time.
Grylls left New Zealand with 67 wins on the board, having started her apprenticeship with Lisa Latta at Awapuni before transferring to Bev and Ken Kelso at Matamata.
“I went over to Brisbane for three months and ended up staying four years,” she said. “I was apprenticed to Barry Lockwood over there and he gave me a good start.”
Grylls struck a successful association with the Lockwood-trained Hidden Pearl, winning six races including a couple at Doomben and a couple at Eagle Farm.
She also had strong support from Robert Heathcote (17 wins), Kelly Schweida (16 wins), John Meagher (10 wins) and former Kiwi Brian Smith (nine wins), helping take her total of Australian wins to 139.
“I had a bit of a setback when I broke my wrist a couple of years ago and was off for four months,” Grylls said. “I got going again, but in the last six months the rides had dried up a bit and it was time to come home.
“It was a great experience over there and a lot of the senior jockeys were helpful. But I want to have a proper crack at it over here.”
Grylls has taken Dean Williams on board as her racing manager and the Taumarunui Cup win was a boost to the partnership. But Grylls isn’t about to sit back and wait for the phone to ring.
“I’m living in Te Awamutu, but riding at the Matamata and Cambridge tracks as well,” she said. “I go to Cambridge on a Tuesday, Waipa Wednesday, Matamata Thursday then either Cambridge or Waipa on a Friday.
“I’m riding work for anyone and just wanting to get going. And I’m lucky with my weight. I can ride easily at 50kg.”
With her brother Craig “flying” in Singapore with usually a win or two a week, she is determined to make her mark on the New Zealand scene and with her light riding weight she could soon be in line for that elusive stakes win. – NZ Racing Desk