Tumbarumba product Nick Souquet has returned home to Wodonga and will be taking up riding opportunities in Victoria for the time being, after getting back in the saddle at Wodonga on Tuesday.
Souquet had previously been based in Corowa with his mother before moving to Albury with Julie Miller, the mother of fellow jockey and friend Simon Miller, sacrificing five months away from his family to ride in NSW after borders were closed due to Covid-19.
The popular jockey said that returning home to his family was the main reason he made the move back home.
“I just had to get back to the wife and three kids, she is working full time and we weren’t seeing each other and I wanted to be back home,” Souquet said.
“Laura (Souquet) basically told me if I don’t come home now, don’t come home at all,” Souquet said, “and who could blame her?”
The 46-year-old said it was good being back with the family, especially after spending the previous two weeks in quarantine at home.
“It’s good, I am really enjoying it,” Souquet said. “I had to do two weeks quarantine but’s all good now.”
Souquet was back in action at Wodonga on Tuesday, and was pleased to be back riding for some familiar trainers who have supported the popular hoop over the years.
“I am back at Wodonga today (Tuesday) and it’s not far to travel,” Souquet said. “I will mainly be riding for Steve Aldridge and Peter Maher.”
The Victorian jockey was under no illusions and said it would be just as tough, if not tougher, to ride winners south of the border.
“It will be very hard over here, it is such a small state and a lot of the Melbourne riders that would normally ride in the city travel and race in the country,” Souquet said.
“You don’t see that too often in NSW.”
Souquet, who has previously made a name for himself riding winners on both sides of the border, is still waiting for the travel ban to be lifted, so he can take every opportunity offered to him.
“I will go anywhere if I get a ride, but hopefully it all opens up again and I can travel to all the tracks I like to ride at,” Souquet said.
Bourke changes stables after Sutherland disqualification
Young Tumbarumba jockey in training, Molly Bourke, has been forced to change stables after Trevor Sutherland’s three-year disqualification that was announced last week.
Bourke was doing most of her riding for Sutherland, although technically being under the tutelage of George Dimitropoulos.
The 17-year-old is now working with Gary Colvin, and in a convenient twist of fate, will actually ride more horses of a morning.
“So, after Trev was disqualified, I went to only riding two horse a morning, which were George’s two,” Bourke said.
“I was losing fitness and the experience to be able to ride in trials, and thank goodness I was able to pick up a job with Gary Colvin and now I’m riding six a morning with him.”
Bourke said Sutherland’s inglorious exit from the Southern District racing scene didn’t overly impact her future.
“Obviously with Trev going out I was going to lose his help, so it was very good to get in with the next biggest stable in Wagga,” Bourke said.
“Trev still helps me out where he can; a couple of his horses that went to other people, he has asked if I could still trial them, which is good.”
The young jockey is now six successful trials into her riding training and explained that trainers and Racing NSW stewards were now getting her to learn new skills.
“I’m loving it, having that many rides now is different, but it is giving me the experience and race fitness I need and they are very helpful over there with teaching me different things,” Bourke said.
“All my trials have been satisfactory, which is good. Each time I trial, they say little things I can improve on and each trial they pick up on something else and judge it a bit harder.
“They are starting to want me to use tactics and I’m getting in amongst the horses and finding out my lengths.”
Bourke said judging distance between horses during trials has been the biggest challenge so far.
“You think you are so much closer than what you are, and trying to figure out that two lengths is really hard, but I’m getting there,” Bourke said.
The youngster could have two trials over the next two days too, meaning she is edging ever so close to a race-day debut.
“I might have one at Canberra on Friday but I definitely have one at Wagga Saturday,” Bourke said.
End of life welfare program welcomed by trainers
In a further extension of Racing NSW’s existing equine welfare programs, it was announced last week that the state’s thoroughbred racing governing body had established an end of life welfare program.
This program is to ensure that every NSW thoroughbred horse has access to a free humane euthanasia service throughout its life in circumstances where a vet has certified that it is in the horse’s best interest and necessary on welfare or safety grounds.
Racing NSW Chairman Russell Balding, in announcing the initiative, emphasised that this program would assure no NSW race horse ended up at an abattoir.
“This end of life welfare program reiterates Racing NSW’s position that under no circumstances should a NSW Thoroughbred horse ever be sent to an abattoir or knackery,” Balding said.
“The vast majority of thoroughbred owners both within and outside the racing industry ensure that their horses have the best possible welfare during and at the end of their lives.
“However, there is a cost involved in euthanising a horse which may have been a deterrent for owners to act in the best interests of the horse’s welfare.
“Accordingly, the end of life welfare program removes the cost associated with euthanising a NSW thoroughbred horse, further protecting the welfare of the horse right up until the end of its life.”
Tumut trainer Kerry Weir said the program was a blessing for trainers and owners who were often left to rehome dangerous horses.
“It’s the best thing they have done,” Weir said.
“What do you do with nasty, untrainable and unrideable horses? Some horses are just not able to be rehomed.”
Weir went as far as suggesting this program could very well save the life of someone who was forced to keep a dangerous horse.
“We can’t just throw them in the paddock,” Weir said. “Some horses are savage and could kill someone. It might only be 1/100 or it might be more that are like that, but there are some dangerous horses out there.”
It won’t be as simple as putting a horse down though, and euthanasia under the end of life welfare program is only permitted where a Racing NSW licensed veterinarian has certified that it is necessary on genuine welfare or safety reasons in the best interests of the horse.
As part of this free service to the owners of the horse, Racing NSW will also appropriately attend to the burial or cremation of the horse.
This End of Life Welfare Program applies to all Thoroughbred horses that have been predominately domiciled in NSW irrespective of age or when they retired from racing. Importantly, this captures horses after they have exited the racing industry who are in the ownership of members of the public as equestrian horses, paddock mates or trail ri