IN Racing
In form Innes ready for Christmas racing
Leith Innes has red letter day at Te Rapa on Saturday
NZ Racing Desk | December 12, 2021
Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

Riding four winners on a premier raceday, including two at Group level is cause to celebrate in any language and jockey Leith Innes wasn’t going to buck that trend after a magical day at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Innes was feeling a little dusty come Sunday morning as he reflected on a superb day at the office that saw him successful aboard the Tony Pike-trained Scribe in the first race on the card before going on to take out the Gr.3 J Swap Sprint (1400m) aboard Packing Rockstar and the Gr.2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m) on Concert Hall and then rounding out his day by winning on the Margaret Falconer-trained Blue Moon in race 9.

For Innes it was a pivotal moment after being stuck in lockdown at home in Auckland for three months before relocating to Cambridge recently to enable him to begin race riding again.

“I’m a little bit hungover this morning, but it was certainly worth celebrating last night after a day like that,” Innes said.

“I knew I had some nice rides during the day, but to win four is pretty special.

“I do feel for Vinnie Colgan though as he would probably have been on Packing Rockstar and Concert Hall if he wasn’t suspended, so I guess it is my good fortune but pretty tough for him.”

Despite his winning haul, one of Innes’ first thoughts was for beaten favourite Aegon in the Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) after nothing went right for the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained four-year-old.

“Aegon just never got the rub of the green from the minute the barriers opened,” he said.

“The horse next to him (Cheval Prometteur) half stumbled coming out and knocked him sideways, which cost him a couple of lengths and then he never got clear air in the home straight, so it was a total forget type of effort.

“He felt good and the run was far better than it looks on paper.”

Along with the financial rewards that come with his success on the day, Innes is hoping the results can set him up for the rest of the summer when it comes to attracting rides at the lucrative Christmas carnivals.

He had been careful during the lockdown period to ensure he came back to race riding in the best mental and physical condition he could be in and is now reaping the benefits of those actions.

“Lockdown was very tough on everyone, although I tried to use it the best way I could to set myself up for the summer,” he said.

“Over the whole time I didn’t get on the scales once and I certainly didn’t miss having to take a sweat bath to get my weight down for raceday.

“I was fortunate I could ride trackwork out at Cambridge Stud’s Karaka property for Lance Noble to keep my riding fitness up and I also spent plenty of time walking with my kids.

“Lance’s team has been firing and it’s great to see them have that success, however I wanted to time my run into the Christmas period and try and relocate when I was ready for that.

“I’m currently riding around 56.5kgs and I’m hoping to have that down to 55kgs for the Ellerslie Carnival.

“I don’t have any confirmed rides at this stage, but after yesterday I’m hoping to rectify that pretty quickly.”

While he has been enjoying his stint in Cambridge, the lifting of the Auckland border restrictions on December 15 will see Innes return to his Auckland home in time for a special family occasion.

“I’m riding at the Rotorua trials on Monday then heading back home in time for my son Jett’s birthday on the 14th (Tuesday).

“It will be great to be home for that and to see him, my daughter Stella and my wife Jess.

“During lockdown Jess has been working from home and has also been supervising the schoolwork for the kids, while I was in charge of physical education, so I’m sure she will be happy to have me back to share the load.

“Being home will be great as we build into the Ellerslie Carnival which I am really looking forward to.

“We haven’t raced there for an eternity, so it will be good to be back, with people on course and some tremendous racing.” 

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