(By John Jenkins)
Promising Hastings apprentice jockey Hunter Durrant is enjoying a busy lifestyle in Australia, where he is on loan to Victorian trainer Patrick Payne.

Durrant, 18, is apprenticed to the partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen and left for Australia a fortnight ago. He plans to be there for at least another month and is then likely to have a stint with Wanganui trainer Kevin Myers when he returns to New Zealand.

“We have sent him over the Patrick Payne’s to further his experience. He is a good rider with a good work ethic and will benefit a lot from the experience,” Guy Lowry said.

Durrant contacted Lowry this week and said he had just been granted his licence to race-ride in Australia. He is riding up to 25 horses in trackwork of a morning, starting at 4am with the powerful Hawkes stable before moving on to Payne’s property. He will be riding at jumpouts tomorrow and trials on Thursday.

Durrant only started race-riding last year and has had one win from 60 rides. That was aboard Royal Ruby in a Rating 72 race over 1600m at Hastings on New Year’s Day when he led all the way and judged the pace of the race to a nicety. That success followed several minor placings for the young rider.

Durrant is not from a racing family but was always keen on horses and started riding when he was five. He had a grounding in show jumping before signing up as a probationary apprentice two years ago with Lowry and Cullen.