Top New Zealand jockey Samantha Collett liked her riding stint in Queensland over winter so much she has decided to make a permanent move to the Sunshine State.
“I really enjoyed my time over there. I came home and thought it was the right time for a new challenge,” Collett said.
“I have ticked a lot of boxes here – I have been a premiership winner, I have had three Group One wins, and I have had close to 50 stakes winners. I have been riding for 15 or 16 seasons and I have had some great support.
“When I came out of my apprenticeship I was battling away there and struggled for a while but the last six seasons has seen my riding really develop.”
While in Brisbane Collett mainly rode for Taranaki horseman Robbie Patterson and she is glad she decided to take the punt and spend some time across the Tasman before fully committing to a move.
“I was very fortunate with the trip to come over with Rob,” Collett said. “I put my neck on the line a little bit there when his team weren’t originally going to bring me over with the mare and I offered to ride her in work, just for a working holiday, and then they said to me while you were over there you might as well ride her.
“I got stuck in Brisbane with COVID so that extended my time there. The time I spent there I thought this is somewhere I would like to live, with the lifestyle and I made some great friends.
“I thought it was time to give it a go, so we will see how we get on.”
Collett admitted it will be a challenge having to start from scratch again having to build her contacts in Brisbane, but she is looking forward to the test and continuing her busy schedule.
“I have never lacked a work ethic,” she said. “I like to be busy and I like to ride where I can for who I can. I have the privilege of being a natural lightweight as well, so that helps.
“I have averaged between 800 or 900 rides every season here so I am always busy and that is something I am looking to continue in Australia. I will have to establish some new connections and show my face around.
“I will look to base myself at Eagle Farm for the time being, just because it is familiar.”
Collett cited the quiet winters in New Zealand as a contributing factor to the move, with the leading hoop wanting to be more active over the colder months.
“I think what is hard here is the lull period after we finish our March carnival and things start to get quiet,” she said.
“I would sooner be busy, so it gives me the perfect opportunity to be busy all year round, there is no lull period (in Brisbane).”
Collett is booked to fly to Brisbane on October 16, meaning she will miss the last day of the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival.
“I had a flight booked, but that was cancelled. It must have something to do with MIQ spots in Australia when they decided to extend the pause on quarantine-free travel,” she said.
“I had to wait until today at 10am for them to open the new schedule to see if I could book. I was a bit anxious to get on a flight because I knew everyone would be in the same position and wanting to book.
“I was lucky enough to get on a flight on October 16. It would have been nice to ride on the last day of the Hawke’s Bay Carnival but it’s just not how it has worked out.”
Collett will have to undergo a two-week quarantine period before she is allowed to ride in Brisbane.
“I will have to do two weeks in quarantine, which I have mentally prepared myself for,” she said.
“I will ride ideally up until the day before I fly, so I will be pretty fit, so out of action for two weeks I am not going to lose a lot of fitness. I will keep myself pretty busy in quarantine.”