South Auckland apprentice jockey Kendra Bakker is still on cloud nine after recording her first win at Avondale on Saturday.
The 22-year-old hoop was having her ninth raceday ride and she was delighted to get $31 outsider Innocent Victim over the line for employer Steven Cole.
“I was super happy to get the win,” Bakker said.
“I was watching his trial form and his one trial on the heavy looked like he kicked on a bit, so I was hoping that he was going to handle the track well, which he did.
“Steven has given me a lot of support over the last couple of years, so I was happy that my first win was for them.”
A career as a jockey wasn’t always on the cards for Bakker, who may not have entered the racing industry had it not been for the pandemic.
“I only got into racing because of COVID,” Bakker said.
“I was over in England for a year and travelled around Europe while I was there. I came back to New Zealand after travelling and I needed a job.
“I worked for Moira Murdoch for a few weeks before she got me a job with Grant Cooksley and then I moved onto the Coles after working there for a little bit.”
Bakker followed the traditional pony club path as a child, but it wasn’t until she rode her first piece of trackwork that she was hooked on a career in the saddle.
“I did pony club and show jumping from when I was 10 until 16. With travelling, I didn’t ride for a few years, and I just got back into horses when I was about 19.
“I sat on the back of a racehorse, fell in love and decided I wanted to become a jockey.”
While Bakker was an experienced rider, she said it has been a big learning curve adjusting to riding track work and pursuing a career as a jockey.
“It is completely different from show jumping and pony club. It felt like learning to ride all over again,” she said.
“But I love it. The more I found out about the jockeys’ lifestyle and the fact that you are a high-performance athlete, the more I wanted to pursue it.”
Trainer Steven Cole was over the moon for Bakker and he is hoping they can partner plenty more winners in the future.
“Innocent Victim has turned his form around from his last couple of runs and it was great to get a win for our apprentice Kendra,” Cole said.
“She came to us a while ago and we said that if she stuck with us we would take her on as an apprentice and give her opportunities, so the win was a great reward for both of us.”