Whatever the weight of a racehorse meeting you can never underplay the enormity of a maiden victory for an apprentice jockey.

Just ask mother Michelle Tindall after her teenage son, Hunter Durrant, claimed his first victory in race 6, Kahungunu Kapa, in Hastings yesterday.

"[I'm] very proud. I know he's worked very hard for today," said Tindall, seconds after wiping away tears from her cheeks following a hearty hug with the 18-year-old who had stepped off the scale.

She said it added to a glorious day at the New Year's Raceday on the home track of Durrant with family and friends there to see him accomplish the feat on Royal Ruby over 1600m in a field of five during the rating 72 race.

Advertisement

Durrant, a former Karamu Boys' High School student, is in his fourth year of apprenticeship with Hastings co-trainers Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen.

"He comes from a very non-horsey family but it was something he always wanted to do, that is ride, yeah," she said.

However, Tindall revealed her son's first foray into the equine domain was in showjumping so she and husband Hayden Durrant wished him all the best and gave him all the support he required.

"It was definitely, 'Go for it', amazing," a beaming Tindall said. "He got his level two and then straight into his apprenticeship."

Fuelled with passion, she said her son was a tireless worker and all the family could do was hope for the best for him every time he slid into a saddle.

Durrant said it was difficult but also a relief to get the first one out of the way on the six-year-old Bay mare under the tutelage of Penny and Tony Ebbett, of Waipukurau.

"It's great to do it on a home track in front of all the local people," he said. "It's a great way to start off the year."

After several second placings in 30-odd rides, the jockey knew it was a matter of time before he would triumph.

"I thought this was my best chance of the day," Durrant said when asked if he felt lucky yesterday.

The softly spoken jockey said his affinity with horses began at 5 but the sky was the limit and he was going to share the bottle of champagne with everyone.

Tony Ebbett said that victory would be a catalyst for Durrant who had the potential to be as good as any rider.

Ebbett said his major attribute was riding to the game plan.

"A lot of them are like Frank Sinatra - Do it their way - but he does it our way so he's a lovely boy and we're just so pleased for him to get the win honour because other people will start using him now."

Victorious apprentice jockey Hunter Durrant savours the limelight in an all-Hawke's Bay effort with Sarah Ebbett (left) and co-trainers Tony and Penny Ebbett. Photo/Anendra Singh
Victorious apprentice jockey Hunter Durrant savours the limelight in an all-Hawke's Bay effort with Sarah Ebbett (left) and co-trainers Tony and Penny Ebbett. Photo/Anendra Singh

He and wife Penny were keen to pick their races "without getting too carried away" with six-year-old mares although black types were the focus.

The race was held up for a few minutes after the John Bary-trained She's A Ripper got spooked in the starting gates before the start.

According to racegoers, the five-year-old Rip Van Winkle mare charged out of the gate, charging into the rail before dislodging apprentice jockey Madan Singh from his perch.

Marshalls took a few minutes to calm down the horse at the final turn before safely guiding She's A Ripper to her handler. The horse was scratched and the jockey unharmed as he recounted the moments with Bary.

In the feature race, Russell Roads City of Hastings Cup/Fasttrack 5k, jockey Lynsey Satherly rode Lucyinrio to victory over 1300m in a field of eight.

A beaming Satherley's offerings of delight later required Interislander Summer Festival master of ceremony Andre Russell to put the win in its overall context.

Russell said a sense of collective euphoria belonged to a punter's club who had nailed three wins on the trot from race 3 to 7.

He said 529 tickets at $10 each had been sold to punters who weren't race savvy but were an integral part of the summer festival drive.

"We started the betting with $5290 so after the first race [3] we collected 1100 for 800 so we had what we call a multi going for the winner," Russell said, revealing the three consecutive winners he had picked had returned a dividend of $28,000.

The "massive result" had mushroomed to $40,290 at the last count after Satherley and Lucyinrio's victory.

With two races remaining, each ticket had earned $76.

Russell, who has been following the summer festival for the sponsors since it started a decade ago, takes the pressure of picking the winners on behalf of the punters in his stride.

"You want to avoid disappointment because you want them to have fun so you're not reckless with the decision-making process," said the Wellingtonian. "Sometimes you get very lucky which is what I was today."

Jockey Lynsey Satherley after riding Lucyinrio to to victory in the feature City of Hastings Cup race yesterday. Photo/Paul Taylor
Jockey Lynsey Satherley after riding Lucyinrio to to victory in the feature City of Hastings Cup race yesterday. Photo/Paul Taylor

Russell rated yesterday's picks No 1 "by a mile" and didn't allude to suggestions that picks were easier although the Patrick Campbell-trained Maria Dior (apprentice jockey Danielle Hirini) stood out for him in race 3.

He said the reservoir of knowledge in racing was overflowing so he simply got lucky.

A grinning Russell saw the irony of picking for others with great success at the expense of his own flutter.

"I'm betting on behalf of other people and made everyone quite rich but I've got nothing from it - just the satisfaction of knowing the first-time racegoers tell me today what a wonderful day they've had in terms of what the club's put on with entertainment between races.

"For them to go away financially in the black is a great feeling for everybody," he said.

Russell saw his role "as a good way to be".

"If you've got skin in the game you can put in more preparation to make better choices, maybe, but it doesn't affect me either way."

He juxtaposed that with not giving it much thought yesterday with a hectic schedule in orchestrating the festivities at the racecourse.

"I had shit 2018, to be honest, so this is a massive way to start 2019 and I'm absolutely delighted and let's hope it stays that way."