Quality over quantity for ace rider Parkes

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Johnathan Parkes

Another cool, calm and collected effort aboard star juvenile On The Bubbles at Awapuni on Saturday saw jockey Johnathan Parkes register his second Group One victory for the season, as the pair combined to take out the Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).

The elite level success came hard off the back of a win with Ocean Billy in the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) with the Central Districts-based Parkes delighted to repay the faith placed in him by the northern trainers.

“Hopefully, I’m established enough now to be thought of for taking rides in the bigger races, although it is still nice when the phone rings with an offer,” Parkes said.

“I’ve built up a good rapport with Jamie Richards and David Ellis and they have been very good to me in offering me rides on horses like On The Bubbles.

“He has been a very good horse to me this season with his win on Saturday and in the Karaka Million (1200m).

“He is tough and very professional which makes my job so much easier.”

After a successful apprenticeship, Parkes established his presence on the national scene when he rode 118 winners in the 2013/14 season and backed that up with another 102 a year later. Big race success began to flow and he rode eleven stakes winners in both the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons.

However, after completing another century of winners in 2018/19, the constant toll of wasting to maintain a competitive riding weight began to affect both his physical and mental health and saw him take a conscious step back by reducing his riding commitments.

“I haven’t ridden as many winners in the last two years as I had previously, but I pick my battles when to ride light now,” he said.

“In those previous years I was riding week in and week out and it got quite hard on my body.

“These days, if there is a feature race, I’m happy to get right down and do the minimum weights but I won’t keep doing that all the time.

“I find that is much easier to maintain where I sit at present and the weight does come off when I need it to.

Admittedly it did take a while to shift after we came back from the COVID lockdown, but I don’t think that was unique to just me.”

While he has ridden short stints in both Australia and Malaysia, Parkes admits he is a home body who is happy to continue his career at his own pace here in New Zealand.

“I don’t really have any desire to ride regularly overseas as I’m happy with how things are going for me here,” he said.

“Over the winter months I slow down and try and take a couple of weeks off, before starting the build up to the spring and summer racing.

“I want to be riding and winning in the feature races, so I want to keep the ball rolling by preparing well for the new season.

“You are always keen when you are doing what you love and I certainly love what I do.”

Parkes has ridden 39 winners this season and is just 56 shy of 1000 career wins, a feat he hopes to mark off sometime in the next season.

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