Jockey Craig Grylls was flying in more ways than one at the Ruakaka races on Thursday.
The 30-year-old caused a social media sensation among horse racing fans when he and fellow jockey Wiremu Pinn posted footage of them landing Grylls' Cessna on the home straight of the racetrack a few hours before the first race after flying north from Waikato.
Grylls got his light aircraft pilot's licence last September after having had a licence to pilot microlights since he was 16.
"I have always loved the flying and actually bought a four-seater Cessna, it wasn't as expensive as you might think," said Grylls, who sits second on the national jockeys premiership.
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Jockeys travel enormous distances, many working every day of what are the summer holidays for many other people, and Grylls says having his own pilot's licence helped enormously cut down on travel time to the more remote meetings.
While he was flying down the straight on the morning of the races, Grylls was also airborne throughout the popular holiday meeting in the far north, riding five winners in the nine races while travel-mate Pinn also added a victory and they provided the quinella in the last race.
Four of Grylls' winning rides were on horses trained by local trainer Chris Gibbs.
Many jockeys at the top of the North Island have a rare Saturday off the races this weekend, with the major meeting of the weekend at Ellerslie on Sunday.