One of the superstars of New Zealand racing is leaving for Australia in a move that will shock the thoroughbred industry.
Premiership-winning jockey Samantha Collett is moving to Queensland on October 16, the day she could have been riding on the last day of the Hawkes Bay carnival.
Collett, who won the premiership in 2018 and has earned the nickname the Queen of the Cups for her efforts on Glory Days, Roger That and Waisake in recent seasons, says while she will almost certainly return home one day she is on an open-ended ticket.
"The time is right for me to try it," Collett told the Herald.
"I have achieved a lot here and love it but it is time for a new challenge.
"I rode a bit in Queensland over the winter and loved it there and I made some really good contacts and had strong support even without chasing rides too much.
"I am going to try and establish myself there so will be really open to taking rides anywhere. And it is warm," she smiles.
Collett has been forced to leave on October 16, the last day of the Hawkes Bay carnival, after her original flight on October 19 was cancelled because of the mad scramble for MIQ spots and therefore Trans Tasman flights.
"I wanted to go a few days after the carnival finished but the flight I had booked was automatically cancelled and the only one I could re-book was on the last day of the carnival.
"It will be a shame to miss that but I am really looking forward to the new challenge.
"It looks like I will need to go into quarantine when I get there but I will be out in time for November racing and I want to give it a real go."
Collett's move is a big loss for the New Zealand jockey's ranks as not only is she is an immensely popular face in the jockey's room but a permanent fixture near the top of the premiership ladder, having finished in the top five of the premiership every season for the last five years and second to Danielle Johnson last season.
Through her premiership consistency Collett's star has risen sharply in recent years but it is the big bang wins in races like the Auckland Cup with Glory Days and Roger That as well as a stellar ride on Waisake in this year's Wellington Cup that have carried her into the top echelon of New Zealand jockeys, evidenced by her 12 black type wins last season.
The only riders with more black type success last term were Johnson and Opie Bosson.
Collett will leave New Zealand with over 880 domestic winners in her career so far for around $16.5 million in stakes.
Collett's announcement comes as one of the emerging stars of the jockey's ranks has been sidelined for the spring and most likely the summer.
Apprentice Elen Nicholas had been in great form and sat second on the national premiership when she was involved in a nasty fall in the last race at Te Aroha on Sunday.
That has left her with a broken leg and arm, the latter having already been operated on in Waikato Hospital.
Nicholas has been riding superbly after returning from previous career-threatening injuries.
"It is terrible timing but it could have been worse because she also got a knock to the head but luckily she has no head issues," says partner Shaun Phelan.
"After having had to come back from a broken leg and other injuries in the last couple of years I asked her today whether she was keen to ride again and she flashed me a really dirty look so I think we can take that as a yes."