They diet together at home, travel to races around the country as a unit and have no qualms about leaning on each other when the going gets tough.

Miranda Dravitzki and Shannon Doyle are among a handful of jockeys in New Zealand thoroughbred racing who are a couple.

The pair, who have been an item for six years, have been living in Napier for almost four months and will be in action at the Christmas at the Races meeting in Hastings today.

"I suppose we're equally disciplined as each other," says Doyle who was born in Taupo but grew up in Sydney and Queensland.

Advertisement

"We can kind of scold each other when we deviate because you always have a moment of weakness," says the 34-year-old who did some trackwork riding for trainers Bart Cummings and Graeme Rogerson in Randwick, Sydney, before the latter lured him to Hamilton.

In his early 20s, he realised he needed to escape from the distractions across the ditch to be successful as a jockey.

Says Dravitzki: "It helps us with our morale, you know, keeping things positive.

"It can be a bit trying at times with the poor me, poor me thing so we're in the same boat," says the 26-year-old from New Plymouth, revealing it's not unusual for them to skip dinner, especially on the eve of a meeting, to make the cut.

It's fruit, vegetables and mostly fish and grilled chicken for the couple who make allowances for red meat once a week and a beer or two on the odd occasion.

"I struggle to refrain from eating," says the daughter of Taranaki trainer Sandy Dravitzki.

The ritual of rewarding themselves is vital in ensuring they don't break from routine.

Explains Doyle: "We have a day off per week to keep our sanity."

Advertisement

He approached Hastings trainer John Bary who encouraged them to shift to the Bay to hone their skills.

Dravitzki rides Lenin the Brown and Doyle will saddle Satin Ridge and Jacksstar, all Bary-trained horses.

A victory for Satin Ridge in the maiden 3-year-old 1400m race today is imperative, considering the horse holds a nomination for the New Zealand derby in late February.

So why Hawke's Bay for the couple?

"It was too good an opportunity to turn down," he says, relishing working with not only Bary's pedigree but every other Bay trainer/owner and industry players who have made that transition fruitful.

It does surprise him that the Bay doesn't have jockeys who are based here, bar the odd apprentice, but notes there's perhaps an element of geographical isolation.

Advertisement

Staying here is a year-by-year proposition for the couple.

In a decade of riding, after an apprenticeship under Rogerson and Taranaki's John Wheeler, Doyle has ridden over fences when his weight wasn't suitable for flat races.

He is still in the hunt of a group one victory.

"You always dream of a group one win," he says, making a mental note of something to accomplish in a couple of years but not letting it overwhelm him.

Dravitzki has a group 3 victory on Karla Bruno, trained by New Plymouth's Royden Bergerson, in the Winter Cup at Riccarton this year but also yearns for that career-defining win.

"It's a lot harder to get good horses as an apprentice," she says with 18 months to go on her on-the-job training.

Advertisement

Dravitzki has ridden 14 winners for Bary.

"I'm probably his most successful ride as an apprentice," she says, having started her trade with her mother before riding freelance because Sandy Dravitzki only has a couple of horses.

Like Doyle, she has no intentions of gravitating to Australia but she does harbour desires to make a three-month working trip.

The jockey can make a 3kg claim on more experienced riders in the city.

She is "very lucky" to have Doyle help improve her riding style and establish race-day tactics.

What happens when they glance over their shoulders to catch each other from the corner of their eyes while heading for the home straight in races?

Advertisement

"We definitely block each other out ... it's pure competition," she says with a laugh, adding it goes with the territory and allegiance to their respective owners/trainers is paramount.