New Zealand jockey Michael McNab is enjoying his best ever season and remains focussed on the immediate future, rather than becoming too caught up in the prospect of a first National Jockeys’ Premiership.
McNab currently sits atop the table with 82 victories, including an impressive 13 at Group or Listed level, and an 11-win buffer on his closest rival Craig Grylls.
However, the Cambridge-based horseman won’t be altering his approach by venturing further afield than normal to chase more rides.
“Not at this stage, it won’t change anything and I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing and try and ride as many winners as I can,” he said.
McNab has had his ups and downs during his riding career and is now reaping the rewards of a much more committed approach to fitness and nutrition.
“I’ve changed my way of life and the way I look at life. I work out a lot now, I never used to, and that’s been massive for me,” he said.
McNab also enjoys the support of Te Akau’s Jamie Richards and the Cambridge stables of Stephen Marsh and Tony Pike, with the trio occupying the top three spots on the Trainers’ Premiership on 113 wins, 68 and 47 respectively.
“I couldn’t be any happier with the way things are going, I’m absolutely rapt and with the backing of Tony, Stephen and Jamie, that helps majorly with the opportunities I am getting,” McNab said.
At Trentham on Saturday, he was thrilled to claim the Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m) aboard the Richards-prepared Imperatriz and went close to a memorable double when runner-up aboard stablemate Self Obsession in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m).
“It was great to get that Group One, I’ve ridden quite a few Group Two winners this season so it was good to finally get one,” he said.
McNab now has five top-flight successes to his credit having won the Tarzino Trophy (1400m) and Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) with Melody Belle, the New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) aboard Loire and the Telegraph (1200m) on Enzo’s Lad.
He had previously guided Imperatriz to victory in the Lisa Chittick Plate at Matamata and his only other ride on the daughter of I Am Invincible resulted in a second placing in the Group 3 Almanzor Plate at Ellerslie.
“She’s unreal, she put herself there, and I had to be so patient. I didn’t want to go too soon, because she was just that little bit suspect at the mile,” said McNab of Imperatriz’s Levin Classic performance. “When she went, there was no stopping her. She’s an amazing filly.”
McNab has also enjoyed a rewarding association this season with Self Obsession and ahead of the Oaks they had combined for Group Two wins in the Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Hastings, David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa and Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie.
“She hasn’t let me down at all and I was super proud of her again on Saturday,” he said.
McNab had earlier combined with the Richards-trained Leaderboard at Trentham to win the Listed New Zealand St Leger.
“He’s a good stayer, but gee he came off the bridle a long way out and it was a tough ride and he kept up a sustained gallop,” he said.
McNab’s first ride on Saturday was a sign of things to come when he guided the Pike-prepared colt Slipper Island to land the opening two-year-old event.
“He got carted out to the middle of the track and got left there. He knuckled down and it was a good effort, he’s a horse with a lot of upside,” McNab said.