Allpress on track for 1000

By Jared Smith

When boxer Muhammad Ali was asked why he was chasing a record fourth world heavyweight title, his reply was simple "I'm shooting for immortality".

Waitotara's jockey sensation Lisa Allpress may not have started out with such lofty aspirations that day in 1996 when she mounted up at the Hawera Racecourse to take Final Forecast to the winner's post.

But another 993 winners later, after over 16 years of intense competition at city and country tracks around the country, Allpress is poised to carve out her own unique spot in New Zealand sports history.

Only 24 male kiwi riders have cracked the 1000 winners in this country and Allpress is all too aware of the ground she will break as the first female jockey to hit that mark.

It was a figure which even escaped the great three-time New Zealand jockeys' premiership winner Lisa Cropp, who rode over 960 winners.

Allpress would like to say she is just taking it one race at a time, but self-deception is the curse of any athlete.

"It's definitely on my mind one of those things starting to probably play on my mind a little too much," the 37-year-old said.

While it dominates her thoughts now, she never dreamed that day in Hawera or in the many victorious days to follow that 1000 was obtainable.

"I got a big picture of my 50th winner I thought that was cool.

"Once I got my 500th winner, I was already a mum by that stage."

Sitting in the nervous nineties at 994 wins has also dragged on a touch longer than one would like during a busy summer racing season, as Allpress opted for a little time off this week for holidaying with the family.

She returns to the track tomorrow in Palmerston North, with one of her four rides a likely contender.

From there it's off to the Hawke's Bay on Sunday, with the prospect the record could fall of all places in Gore the following Saturday.

"Wherever it happens, it will be special and it would be good to do it in the South Island," Allpress said, recalling many mounts she took to victory down there.

Still, there are other tracks which have sentimental value Matamata could just about claim the Stratford-born prodigy, while Hawera's track would bring this journey full circle.

That day in 1996 her good friend Vicki Costa had been scheduled to ride Final Forecast "called Keith at the stables", but Costa was stood down after being "a bit naughty".

Being well over a 15 years ago the exact cause of Costa's infraction escapes memory, but Allpress took her chance and never looked back.

Later, her first group one winner was also at Hawera, as was the only time she ever rode five winners in a day.

Having won the National Jockey Premiership last season on the back of 159 winners Allpress knows the stats are often not fully accounted for in the public circle.

A spat with fellow top jockey Jonathan Riddell a few years ago keenly revealed this fact.

"He said, "where's your group one [victories]?

"That's what jockey's are really judged by.

"It's not just how many you've ridden."

But do not be mistaken in thinking that besting the 1000 mark will be a good note to retire on.

"It's not a [career] go-out number," Allpress said.

"It's not the end of the whole thing, it's just a number to be clocked up."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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