In a game where champion blood-lines can reign supreme, jockey Ryan Elliot is living up to his pedigree.

The 20-year-old, who was crowned champion New Zealand apprentice jockey at the end of the current season today, boasts a breeding page brimming with black-type.

Both his parents, Grant and Leanne, were former handy jockeys, while his uncle Ross Elliot was also a top jockey in his time with a cult following, perhaps most known for his deeds aboard champion galloper Rough Habit.

While never a raceday jockey, his grandfather Kevin was a handy trainer who produced many winners from his Ōhau base, and the wider Elliot family were heavily involved in pony club.


Delve back further in the pedigree page and his forebears were seldom far from a horse, including his great-grandfather Reg Butt who trained the odd horse on his farm near Levin, and was successful as a racehorse owner too.

Elliot said at the start of the season he had a goal of riding 50 winners, so to surpass that mark was satisfying, and any big wins along the way were a bonus. His previous best season tally was 43 wins.

His best season in the saddle thus far featured two major cup wins, the Wellington Cup on Gorbachev and the City of Auckland Cup on New Year's Day aboard on Prince Jabeel. Horses he rode this season had amassed almost $1.5 million in stake-earnings.

Elliot has now won 160 races in his career that started with a brave move from Levin as a 15-year-old to take an apprenticeship with top trainer Graeme Rogerson at Tuhikaramea.

He originally learnt to ride as a toddler on a pony called Bonnie.

He had barely completed his secondary school requirements at Horowhenua College, but was determined to pursue a career as a jockey and saw a move north as the best way to achieve that goal.

Pedigree can only get you so far in racing, any success comes with hard work.

Elliot was taken to the stables for an introduction at first, to make sure it was the direction he wanted to take, but the youngster was keen to follow the path of hard work and early mornings.


"I just wanted to ride," he said.

These days he was not afraid to mix it with the hurdle jockeys either, and competed in several jumping races through the season.

"It's exciting. It gets the blood pumping," he said.

As one of the taller jockeys in New Zealand, he was constantly having to watch his diet.

"Everyone has told me to make as much money as I can while I can because I'm going to get too big," he said.

"But I watch what I eat and it's under control at the moment."

While Elliot said he was aiming for the 50-winner mark again this coming season, his long-term goals were to win a Group One race and a New Zealand jockey premiership.

He also was keen to continue his good association with the Graeme Rogerson stable now he had graduated from his apprenticeship and was a fully fledged senior jockey.