Former jockey Amber Sims kicked off her training career in the best possible fashion at Avondale on Wednesday, winning the Avondale Sunday Markets (1600m) with Coruba Jak. Jockey Andrew Calder took advantage of his ace barrier, driving Coruba Jak forward to take an early sit behind leader Rising Risk. Calder asked his charge to improve turning for home and Coruba Jack was able to get the better of Rising Risk and held off the late challenge of Reliabull to win by a head.
Sims was delighted with the win, but admitted she was pleasantly surprised to secure her maiden training victory so early in her career. “It was pretty exciting and a bit unexpected. I might retire now,” she quipped. “Halfway up the straight I thought he had every chance to blow out a little because I thought he might have lacked a little race fitness, but Andrew rode him really well. “He is a lovely little horse. I am proud of him.”
Formerly trained by her mother, Patsy Riley, Sims took over training the five-year-old gelding at the start of the season, realising a long-held dream. “I have always wanted to train. I just thought with the new season I might as well give it a go and Mum has got quite a few horses now, so it frees up one space for her,” Sims said.
Sims won 19 races in the saddle, but said training a winner, especially one she owns, was a very rewarding experience. “It’s harder,” she said. “Thankfully I have no pressure because I own the horse myself. I have got a lot of people who help me, so it was great for them as well. “I was a little nervous when I let him go on the track, but he was in capable hands with Andrew. He does a fair bit of work for us behind the scenes too, so it was nice for Andrew.”
The 26-year-old has just the one horse in work, but she said that is more than enough considering her busy schedule. “I am working full-time at Pukekohe Park (as the marketing manager) and I am also teaching music part-time as well, so just having the one horse in work and riding for Mum in the morning keeps me busy,” she said.
Sims started to teach music after she retired from raceday riding 18 months ago and she said she enjoys passing on her passion for music. “I have always enjoyed it,” she said. “My sister (Trackside presenter Nicole Sims) and I both learnt music as kids – I learnt piano and my sister learnt guitar. We went right through and I studied music at school as well.”
Sims said she is enjoying her busy life and is hoping it won’t be too long before she is back in the winner’s circle. “I am just happy doing what I am doing,” she said. “I will just take it as it comes.”