Ex-pupil keen to see old teacher in action

Stephen Autridge doesn’t have to look far to get some inside information on riding the Te Rapa track these days as he prepares for the two-race Classic Jockeys Series.

Autridge is one of 10 riders who have agreed to take part in the novelty event, a joint initiative between the Waikato Racing Club and the Cambridge Jockey Club and sponsored by Cambridge Stud.

As he prepares for the first series race at the Cambridge Jockey Club meeting on Sunday week (the other race is at the Waikato Racing Club meeting on December 20), Autridge, now in his mid-50s, can confide in his jogging partner if he wants to get an edge over such former rivals as Jim Collett and Bob Vance.

Pounding the roads at times with Autridge is his former apprentice, the country’s leading big-race rider Opie Bosson, who is being helped by his old boss in his bid to beat his constant battle with weight issues. Bosson is also regularly riding some trackwork for Autridge.

Bosson has the utmost respect for Autridge and credits the former jockey and successful trainer with paving his road to success. And now Bosson, tongue-in-cheek, reckons he’ll help the “old boy” out with some pre-race instructions if he needs them.

“It’ll be a bit of fun seeing him in his silks again,” said Bosson.

Autridge mightn’t have enjoyed the success experienced by Bosson, but he included many highlights among his 269 wins in New Zealand, the most significant being his association with the ill-fated great three-year-old Altitude.

As the regular rider of Altitude, Autridge celebrated victory in the Gr. 1 NZ 2000 Guineas, the race Bosson won for the sixth time last Saturday aboard Turn Me Loose. Altitude also included in his eight wins the Bayer Classic, Great Northern Guineas and Avondale Guineas.

“He’s the horse everyone remembers most about my riding days,” said Autridge. “When I won the Bayer Classic on him it was the first $100,000 race in New Zealand. He was such a great horse.”

Autridge won three Group One races as a jockey with the other two being the 1982 Wellington Cup on Ruanuku and the 1978 Telegraph Handicap on Extra Flash. He also had a successful association with Blue Rula, trained by his uncle Gil Autridge.

A Touch Of Ruby provided Autridge with his first training success at Group One level when taking the Thorndon Mile at Trentham last January and now the talented horseman says it would be great to get one over his old colleagues in the Classic Jockeys Series.

“I actually rode in one of these type of races in the early 1990s,” said Autridge. “It was at Waipa and I remember Linda Jones won it.”

Autridge retired in 1985 after riding at Rotorua, a day after finishing fourth on Field Dancer in Bonecrusher’s NZ Derby at Ellerslie, but has kept his hand in riding trackwork over the years.