Million-dollar man enjoys his success
Jason Waddell is taking the money and running. After hitting $1 million in stakes earnings on Monday, Waddell is preparing to take a month-long break in Europe.
Jason Waddell is almost loath to take a holiday.
The Cambridge jockey is booked next week to fly to Europe for a month but is leaving in white-hot form.
Waddell passed the $1 million mark for earnings for the season at Hastings on Monday when he piloted two winners, 7 1/4-length maiden winner Barbaric, prepared by Stephen Marsh, and another maiden winner, Artemis, for Cambridge trainer Roger James.
Waddell had teamed up with James for two wins at Te Rapa on Saturday, showcasing his immense talent in the saddle with impeccable rides to get home on Le Moussier and The Tidy Express.
The four wins took Waddell's season tally to 53, a mark he hopes to double next season.
"It's almost like I don't want to go on holiday now because I'm quite enjoying this run. The last five weeks have been amazing,'' Waddell said between rides at the Paeroa trials yesterday.
"I had to start the season from scratch, having not ridden for 18 months before that, but now I'm riding for the best stables and the support I'm getting from trainers and owners has been incredible.
"I set myself the goal of riding 50 winners and getting to stakes of $1 million, so it was good to get there. It was better than I could have hoped for really.
"The only one thing we missed was winning a Gr I race but we only missed by a nose [riding Zurella, who ran second to stablemate Artistic in the New Zealand Oaks].''
It has been a sometimes turbulent ride for Waddell, who was sidelined for 14 months after he tested positive to methamphetamine, a drug he has steadfastly denied ever taking.
But a new-found maturity and a successful partnership with new riding agent, broadcaster Darryl Anderson, has Waddell in arguably career-best form.
"Darryl has been amazing. He's done a great job and we get on well,'' Waddell said.
A season highlight was his Gr II Waikato Times Gold Cup win on the John Sargent-trained Dawn Ghost, one of six stakes wins for Waddell for the season.
Waddell, who travels to Denmark, Sweden and Spain in the coming weeks with his girlfriend Anna Berg, has set himself ambitious goals for next season of winning 100 races, 10 of them at Group or Listed level, as well as being New Zealand's leading Gr I rider.
"I'll keep fit while I'm away and I'll kick off again at the Te Teko trials at the start of the season,'' Waddell said.
Waddell's ride on The Tidy Express on Saturday was a peach, the Cambridge jockey opting to stick to the fence, bucking the trend of riders scouting wide on the home bend searching for the better ground wider in the straight.
The result was The Tidy Express saved several lengths and was able to establish a winning break early in the straight, holding off the chasers on the better going.
"She was too big, too strong,'' Waddell said.
'Her form was outstanding and I thought she was a certainty. She was unlucky last start and Roger always has his horses trained to the minute.''
Waddell's ride was a replica of the tactics he used to win on Ellie'O at Te Rapa last month and going back even further to his rails-hugging ride to win the Gr II Matamata Breeders' Stakes on Te Akau Coup in 2008.
"The other horses are quickening and going wider but I'm just going the same pace and staying up the inside, yet I'm still in front on straightening. But you've got to be on the right horse in the right situation,'' Waddell said of the tactics.
By Volksraad out of Mia Le Fay, The Tidy Express' 3 1/2-length maiden win came at her fourth start.
Le Moussier was just as dominant, but from the front.
A four-year-old gelding by Rock Of Gibraltar out of former top mare Foxwood, Le Moussier scored by 4 1/4 lengths in the Rating 65 company, his second win from seven starts.
"He's a lovely front-running horse and that's probably the way to ride him. He just loves being out in front,'' Waddell said.
"He got a bad check last time and did really well to stay on his feet. He can go through the grades and be a good stayer next year.''
James recorded a winning treble at Te Rapa, with the Michael Coleman-ridden Holy Moly completing the haul when she won the 1600m Rating 75 event.