While she may be currently enjoying a week of rest and recreation in Cairns, the smart money will be that Samantha Collett is still well and truly on the go despite the fact she is supposed to be on holiday.
The work ethic instilled into Collett at a young age was never more evident than over the past 12 months which saw her capture her first National Jockeys’ Premiership title.
A final tally of 132 wins, 26 clear of last season’s champion Chris Johnson, came from an astonishing 1173 raceday mounts, nearly 400 more than cousin Alysha Collett who had amassed 784 before taking up a Singapore contract in May.
For Collett the punishing workload was the means to an end in fulfilling her burning ambition to establish herself firmly amongst the elite riding ranks in the country.
“I really haven’t had a chance to stop and reflect on the season, it’s been so busy,” Collett said.
“It’s been full on but awesome at the same time.
“My goal certainly wasn’t to win the premiership, that was just a wonderful by-product, but really I just wanted to establish myself so I could improve the rides I was getting and get on the more competitive horses.
“The support I have had has just been incredible and I’m very thankful to everyone who has helped me along the way.”
Collett and manager Darryl Anderson have worked hard to generate opportunities the length and breadth of the country, which has seen her compete regularly in both the South Island and Central Districts to complement her work in her traditional base, the upper North Island.
“I guess it really all started towards the end of last season where I was getting more rides and winners and it just snowballed from there,” Collett said.
“Part of it has been the travel to the South Island where I’ve established some great contacts. While it can be tiring heading down there on such a regular basis it’s been really worthwhile and something I have enjoyed.
“I’ve never been attached to a major stable, so I have had to work hard to get the opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to get this year.”
Collett firmly believes that the amount of riding she has done has benefitted her in more ways than just purely financial returns.
“The number of rides I have had has really helped hone my fitness, but just as important has been the confidence it has given me,” she said.
“Being confident means you can be more patient in a race and that can only help the horses that you ride. It’s funny but it seems to be that things happen slower in races now because I have that experience under my belt and I know it has made me a better jockey for it.
“I believe I’m thinking a lot sharper and it has really helped me read races a whole lot better.”
Collett will use her time away from the track to reflect on her year but more importantly to reset her goals for the new season. Included in that planning will be to take as much away from a golden opportunity that has come around courtesy of her stellar performances.
In late August she will represent New Zealand in the Japan Racing Association’s World Allstars Jockeys’ Series that will be held in Hokkaido.
“It looked pretty exciting to me and after talking it over with Dad (former rider Jim Collett), I was definitely happy to accept the invitation,” Collett said.
“Dad rode in the series twice in the 1990s and he took my granddad with him on one trip. He’ll be coming with me when we fly to Japan and the four-race series will take place on consecutive days at Sapporo racecourse on August 25 and 26.
“I get to ride against some of the best jockeys in the world, so I will be trying to soak up all the knowledge I can.
“It’s a great privilege to be invited and to get that sort of exposure is fantastic, so I will be doing my best to impress.” – NZ Racing Desk