A four-win bag at Awapuni on Saturday has provided a confident platform for talented apprentice jockey Wiremu Pinn to launch the next chapter in his burgeoning career.
Having spent the latest phase of his indentures in Matamata with Daniel Miller, on Monday the 24-year-old will head to Melbourne and continue his apprenticeship with Cranbourne trainer Michael Kent senior.
With a tally of 171 wins since first showing his ability in the saddle in 2018, Pinn has long outridden his claim in New Zealand, however under Australian racing rules he is still eligible for a three-kilogram claim in metropolitan races.
“I couldn’t believe it when they told me I could still claim three kilos over there, so I’m hoping that will help me get rides,” Pinn said.
“I’m due to come out of my time early next year, that’s why I want to head over to Australia to make the most of the rest of my apprenticeship.
“Everything’s been signed up, Dan realises what a big opportunity this is for me, and he’s signed my transfer to Mr Kent. I’ve met him and he seems like a champion bloke.”
Having taken his current season tally to 48 with Awapuni wins on Shelbyrock’n, Bradman, Lurid and Old Town Road, Pinn, a natural lightweight, is within reach of his previous best 52 last season.
“I still haven’t ridden a full season, and I reckon I did pretty well from only about five months last season,” Pinn said.
“There have been times when I haven’t helped myself one way or another and it’s taken me a while, but I think I’m finally learning to grow up and handle things a lot better.”
After beginning his career with Jamie Richards at Te Akau Racing in the 2017-18 season, the wayward teenager was recommended to noted apprentice mentor Allan Sharrock by northern riding master Noel Harris.
Sharrock famously quoted Harris at the time referencing the challenges presented by his former star apprentice Michal Walker: “Noel’s exact words were that the boy was as good as Michael on his best days and three times as bad on his worst."
The New Plymouth trainer eventually despaired of Pinn, but after a period away from racing when he worked on a dairy farm, another chance came with Miller.
“A lot of people have helped me along the way, and it was good to ride two winners (Lurid and Old Town Road) for Lisa Latta, who has been a big supporter,” Pinn said after his Awapuni innings.
“It was tough going out there, the track was so heavy, but at least it was loose, and it didn’t take long to work out that the best place to be was out wide.”
Pinn will be keeping a close eye on the New Zealand jockeys’ premiership – or more specifically the battle for the apprentice title – which is currently led by his partner, Tayla Mitchell.
A double at Te Rapa on Saturday took Mitchell’s tally to 57, with a resurgent Kelsey Hannan now on 53 after a Te Rapa treble and defending apprentice champion Joe Kamaruddin next on 52.
Mitchell’s Te Rapa brace included the Miller-trained Senor Uno, who stepped up to a middle-distance with a bold front-running performance.
“It was good to see him win, not just for Dan and Tayla but for my parents too, they’ve got a share in him,” Pinn said.
“Tayla’s riding really well and I’ve told her if she keeps working at it, she can win the apprentice title, I’d love to see her do that.”
Pinn’s highlights include the Gr. 1 Otaki WFA Classic (1600m) on Mascarpone for Team Rogerson in February 2022, and just weeks later the Gr. 2 Auckland Cup (3200m) with a daring ride on the Fraser Auret-trained Uareastar.