First season apprentice Jessica Allen showed she will be in hot demand over the winter months as she took out the first two races at Pukekohe on Saturday in contrasting fashion.
Allen, who is indentured to trainer Mark Walker at Matamata, made her debut at Te Rapa last month and gained immediate success for her boss aboard Aotea Lad.
Successful on a further two occasions since then, Allen made it career wins four and five when she produced a front-running gem aboard the Tim and Margaret Carter-trained Johny Johny ($2.10) in the first race on the card before doubling up on the Walker-trained Kai ($11) in race two.
After cuddling up Johny Johny in front in the first race and leading her pursuers a merry chase, Allen showed good judgement aboard the pint-sized Kai as she produced a well-timed late charge to run down race favourite Alchemia in the shadows of the post in a rating 75 1200m contest.
“It was really exciting. I didn’t expect to ride a double and I try not to get too far ahead of myself,” Allen said.
“I was a little bit worried that I might get swamped on Johny Johny like last time, but when I was 100m from the post, I was pretty sure I was home.
“With Kai, I wasn’t convinced that I would be able to catch Nabba (Michael McNab on Alchemia), but it was pretty exciting to get up.”
Allen said Walker’s relaxed demeanour was beneficial to her ability to execute.
“I think he knows that I put a lot of pressure on myself, so he is good at staying relaxed and not saying too much.
“He is a terrific mentor, as is Noel Harris, who goes through videos with me every week.”
Allen is keen to follow in the footsteps of leading apprentices Tayla Mitchell and Kelsey Hannan next season, with that pair enjoying breakout seasons.
“Kelsey and Tayla have had really good seasons, so it has been cool to watch them progress and I guess they give me some sort of inspiration as to what to aspire to,” she said.
Walker was delighted with both the win by Kai and the performance of his apprentice.
“That was a good ride by Jess on Kai as she made very good use of her 4kg claim on our one as well as the horse in the first race,” Walker said.
“She seems to have a knack of putting her horses in the right spot and that will stand her in good stead as she gets more experience under her belt.
“I don’t tend to give the apprentices that many instructions, I try to keep it pretty simple and Jess has used her initiative well to bring our filly into the fight at the right time.
“She (Kai) is not very big, so she suits an apprentice rider with a claim, but she is tough and she tries her heart out.
“We will probably just try and take her through the grades over the winter as she seems to handle bad ground quite well.”
Walker was also pleased with the run of Kabugee who fought hard for second in a three-year-old 1400m event while he advised promising two-year-old Egyptian Queen would be heading to the spelling paddock after failing to handle the testing Heavy10 surface when finishing towards the rear in the Listed Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Futurity Stakes (1400m).