1000 victories in the saddle is an impressive milestone and one Samantha (Sam) Collett can now claim as her own. Even more remarkably, Sam now joins both her parents, Jim Collett and Trudy Thornton, in the ‘1000’ club – potentially making this family achievement a world-first.
We are proud to be the racetrack where Sam first saw Group 1 success when she took out the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup aboard Glory Days in 2019. She made it 2 for 2 when claiming the same race on Roger That the following year and her career is still going from strength to strength.
With Mother’s Day being celebrated this weekend, we caught up with Sam’s very proud mum Trudy, to learn more about their success story.
Trudy, Happy Mothers Day and thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. We’d love to know, when Sam was growing up did you know she’d end up in the racing industry like her parents? How did you feel about it?
She was always interested in horses growing up and got involved with the pony clubs and things like that. It’s definitely a tough game to be in and I couldn’t say I was in favour of her going into it. But she’s got the determination, she took her own path and I’ve supported her ever since.
You know more than anyone it’s a high risk profession and I can imagine that takes on new meaning as a parent. Were you honest with her about the realities of being a professional jockey or had she already seen this after watching her mum and dad?
It’s a tough sport but it’s all part of the job and you try not to look at the risk factor in the situation. When I’ve been a few horses back and seen her on a horse that’s pulling, I can’t say I don’t get a little nervous, but I’ve got a lot of faith in her ability. She’s a strong and very independent woman and being able to have that faith in her makes it a lot easier on my mind.
Did you have any advice to give to her specifically about being a female jockey?
I just said to her that it’s a male-dominated sport and it always will be. She’s met those obstacles. You can win on a horse but then next start it’s back to a male jockey. That does get frustrating and Sam has had to face those challenges. Like I said to her though, don’t ever doubt yourself, there’s plenty of other people in the industry that will give you opportunities. I always say you’re only as good as the horse you’re sitting on.
Recently Sam has reached an impressive milestone for a jockey, having ridden 1000 winners. What was it like seeing your daughter reach the 1000-win mark and join you in the 1000 club? I mean how’s that for a mother daughter duo!?
I’m extremely proud of her. She’s worked so hard. Her main focus was to get to 1000 winners and I think she can now look to 2000 winners. She’s got everything one needs to achieve those goals. I’m proud of her whether she wins 1000 races or not, she’s an amazing young woman and handles herself very well. She’s a great rider, great with people and I’m just extremely proud of her. She’s worked very hard and it’s been quite emotional to see her reach that.
She’s a great rider, great with people and I’m just extremely proud of her.
Sam’s recently headed over the ditch, do you still try and keep up with all of her races?
Absolutely, I’m in touch with her everyday and always watch her racing if I’m still awake at night! We’re a close family, all of my children and I are in day-to-day contact. I always try and support her and give her advice, but I’ve got a lot of faith in her. She’s a strong young lady and she’s handled herself very well.
Proudest mum moment watching Sam’s career?
I couldn’t be more proud of everything she does. She’s won the premiership, she’s reached 1000 wins and like I said I think she can get to 2000. Sam is an incredibly talented young woman, I’m extremely proud of her and all my children.
Sam is an incredibly talented young woman, I’m extremely proud of her and all my children.
You’re obviously still riding at 60 years young. Can you see Sam also having this long of a career in the saddle?
She’ll take her path. She wanted to get to 1000. It’s a hard sport but it’s also very addictive. It’s something that’s in the blood, it’s in the family. People sometimes comment whether I should still be racing, but I just love what I do.
And in your fabulous career as one of NZ’s top female jockeys Trudy, what was a real career highlight for you?
I couldn’t really pinpoint one specific race, they all mean something to me. But, Wellington Cup on Megapins was a great achievement and it meant a lot to me as I had done a bit of work with that filly earlier on. Although, even if I win a maiden race for people that are loyal to me it still gives me such a kick.
Our thanks to Trudy for taking the time to talk to us in advance of Mother’s Day. And our congratulations to Sam, Trudy and Jim for their achievements – to call us proud Kiwi’s is an understatement!