Eight months since moving back to New Zealand from Macau jockey Andrew Calder has quickly re-established himself as a strong addition to the Kiwi riding ranks.
Calder, who spent seven years riding in Macau, has won 15 races since his return in May, including one at Group Two level.
“I’m staying with my father-in-law, Richard Collett, so I’ve been riding work for him and showing up to every trial and race meeting in the northern area and slowly building up contacts,” Calder said.
“I was gone for quite a long time, so you do lose your support, but most of the trainers have been quite receptive.
“When I came back in winter it was a little bit slow. I was just getting one or two rides a meeting, but since the tracks have firmed-up I’m getting a lot more support.
“The apprentices aren’t getting as many rides and trainers are using senior jockeys more.”
Calder said that being able to ride as light as 54kgs has provided a number of opportunities to gain rides.
“The other riders have been great too,” Calder said. “There’s good comradery between us all and they’re a great bunch, so I’ve fitted right back in with them.”
While Calder is enjoying the Kiwi lifestyle and home cooked meals, he does miss some aspects of life in Macau.
“The travel in New Zealand is a big thing that I’ve had to get used to again,” he said.
“I used to love having the one track in Macau which was walking distance from where we lived, and all our race-day gear just stayed on course.
“I went to Macau for a change of scenery at the time and I enjoyed getting a bit of overseas experience to boost my expertise.
“I went over there for three months and ended up shifting over there. My wife Natasha and I never expected to stay as long as we did but we really enjoyed the lifestyle and financially it was quite lucrative for us.”
Calder said that although racing in Macau has been in decline, there were a number of advantages to working in the former Portuguese territory.
“There are more overheads as a jockey in New Zealand, with tax, ACC and travelling expenses it does add up,” Calder said.
“Tax in Macau is only five percent. That’s quite a big difference to 33% in New Zealand.”
Calder has no plans to head overseas again as he is enjoying setting-up a life for his family in Pukekohe with Natasha and eighteen-month-old twin boys Tye and Jax.
“I’m really settled here now and I’m going to make a conscious effort to improve and get into a better spot on the premiership,” he said. “I will just work on getting winners and making contacts.”
Calder continues his association with the Nigel Tiley-trained Bisou Bisou this Saturday in the Gr.2 Kamada Park Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Awapunui.
Calder combined with the vastly-improved mare to win the Gr.2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) in late November before she finished sixth in last weekend’s Gr.2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m) at Te Rapa.
Looking further ahead he’s looking forward to partnering two runners in particular over the Christmas period.
“Marzemino of Peter and Dawn Williams is very smart,” Calder said. “Tiger Silk for Richard Collett is another who will be running over that time and I am looking forward to riding her too.” – NZ Racing Desk