Racing: Young guns fire at Ruakaka

By Mike Dillon

Shezhardtocatch and Doni Prastiyou (right) get home with a well-timed run to beat To Be Sure (middle) and First Class at Ruakaka on Saturday. Photo / Trish Dunell
Shezhardtocatch and Doni Prastiyou (right) get home with a well-timed run to beat To Be Sure (middle) and First Class at Ruakaka on Saturday. Photo / Trish Dunell

In the day of Australia plucking most of our young riding talent - unthinkable 25 years ago - it's lovely to see potential in the apprentice ranks.

Matamata's Sean McKay is only a couple of wins from outriding his apprentice claim (100 wins) in what seems like a blink.

Similarly in the north Anna Jones is heading up there and the Irish couple Lee Magorrian and Brendon Hutton are racking up winners with Ryan Elliot also bursting onto the scene.

At Ruakaka on Saturday we saw two emerging topliners in Doni Prastiyou and Sam Weatherley, who between them won three races.

They are at the opposite ends of the apprentice spectrum. Doni Prastiyou rode more than a half century of winners in the South Island and has been on fire in the north during the month or so since transferring to the Dawn and Peter Williams/Paul Richards stable at Byerley Park.

"Fabulous ride," enthused Allan Peard, stable foreman for Bruce Wallace, after Prastiyou produced an astute performance to land underrated mare Shezhardtocatch home an upset winner in the main race of the day.

"He was patient and came out to the right part of the track in the home straight."

The amiable Prastiyou has impressed some keen judges since coming north. So has Sam Weatherley in the handful of rides since appearing on the scene a month ago. Weatherley, apprenticed to Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott, rode his first winner Maddee Fae on June 1 and he is steeped in racing blood, his grandfather and father, Dan and Darryn Weatherley, riding a stack of winners between them.

"He was mad keen right through to be a jockey," says mother Lou, also from a family deep in horses. There was a problem - the weight. "He was a fat little [teen]," said father Darryn, "and I gave him no chance. He was 57kg when he was 15 and now he walks 46kg."

The weight fell off when Sam Weatherley went to work weekends and some mornings and afternoons for John Sargent before he left to train in Australia. He lost 12kg in a lesser number of months.

"We wanted him to take up law and he got to Legal 1 when his teacher called me one day with the advice: 'Take Dan and let him try out as a jockey and if he doesn't like it he can come back to school next year'. She told me I may as well because he was spending half the day hiding in the toilets listening to racing commentaries. Sam just lives and breathes horses."

No doubt assisted by a 4kg claim, Weatherley won on the Logan/Gibbs pair of Rocknrolla and Silencer at Ruakaka.

Weatherley also booted home Prize Lord for his bosses at Te Aroha yesterday.

"When he won his first race on Maddee Fae three of his former class wagged school for the day and led the cheer team when he came back to the birdcage," said Lou Weatherley.

Dan Weatherley rode the fine galloper Kiwi Can to win a number of races and son Darryn included in his 300 winners a brace on Rough Habit.

The breeding is there.

- NZ Herald

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