One of New Zealand’s top big-race jockeys is heading across the Tasman.
Cambridge jockey Jason Waddell said he is at a stage in his career where he would like to test his talents in Australia.
“I wanted to be a part of the ship that resurrected New Zealand racing, I really did, but sometimes you have got to do what is best for yourself and your family and go where the money is,” Waddell said.
The 34-year-old hoop previously enquired about a track rider position with Sydney trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott last year. However, with his services not being pursued, Waddell’s hunger to prove himself grew.
“That fueled a fire in me to get back out there on the track to prove to myself that I was good enough to go there, and I did that this season.
“I set myself a pretty hefty target of five Group Ones and 10 stakes wins this season, which I don’t think many jockeys achieve, and I ended up with four and 11.
“I missed out on the last Group One (NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes, 1600m cancelled due to Covid-19) on Supera, so I had a chance for five.
“I thought my riding is good enough now to go overseas and have a crack.
“My body is great, my mind is good, and my riding has been showing that this season.”
While Waddell has long held a desire to test himself across the Tasman, he said the uncertainty surrounding New Zealand racing over the last few months sealed his decision, including a reduction in opportunities with racing broadcaster Trackside.
“I was interested in pursuing a career in media once I had hung up my boots and I was getting quite a bit of work for Trackside.
“I was really interested in following that avenue, but with the recent cuts at Trackside I don’t even know if that avenue is going to be there for me later on.
“That was one of the factors keeping me here.
While he is looking forward to the move, Waddell said he would consider travelling back to New Zealand to ride in some of the bigger carnivals.
“I definitely want to come back for the Christmas carnival,” he said. “The quietest time in Australia is their Christmas period, so I am definitely keen to come back and ride at the carnivals for the big Group One races if it doesn’t clash with my schedule over there.”