From the Commentary Box – Monday, 23rd June 2014

Promising local apprentice, Ulrika Holmquist, continued her hot riding streak last weekend.

Indentured to Cambridge trainer Lee Somervell, Holmquist kicked home three winners over the weekend.

The Swedish born rider picked up a notable double at Tauranga on Saturday and kicked home a winner at Waipa on Sunday for good measure.

Making her riding double at Tauranga even more meritorious was the fact that the meeting had premier status.

Holmquist sent punters reeling with her first victory on Saturday.

Riding the Barry Cook trained Steffi’s Secret , Holmquist guided her mount to a half length victory over race favourite Casino Park.

Unwanted by punters after indifferent lead up form, Steffi’s Secret returned outside odds of $53 for the win.

After settling behind midfield, Steffi’s Secret was sent forward as the field came to the home turn.

At that stage, it looked as though Casino Park , who had cruised up to the lead was set for a deserved win but Steffi’s Secret and Holmquist had other ideas.

“When she got balanced up in the home straight she really started to fight strongly” said Holmquist.

The young rider was quick to acknowledge the effort of trainer Barry Cook.

“Barry and I have enjoyed success teaming up recently and I’m thankful for him giving me the opportunity to ride his horses” she said.

A couple of weeks ago, the combination scored with promising two year old , Buffalo Boy at Te Rapa also at outside odds.

The partnership continued their success when Princess Nicole scored a commanding win at Waipa on Sunday.

Cook, who only recently returned to training from his Cambridge base, is a big fan of Holmquist.

“She listens to what you say and the horses respond to her riding” said Cook.

The other victory for Holmquist was aboard Fair Fleet for her boss, Lee Somervell.

After settling well back in the early stages, Holmquist continued to pinch runs along the inside on Fair Fleet to be in a challenging position on the home turn.

From there, the pair quickly asserted superiority and raced away for an easy four and and half length victory.

Fair Fleet led home a Cambridge trained trifecta with D’Llaro trained by Graeme Lord and the Ben Foote trained Second Innings filling the minor placings.

Somervell is understandably delighted with the success of his young apprentice.

“She’s a dedicated rider who works hard and she deserves the success she’s having” said Somervell.

Now down to a 3kg claim, Holmquist, should continue to enjoy success over the coming months.


Finally , it was sad to hear of the passing of Brian “Baggy” Hillis last Sunday morning.

One of the real characters of the racing industry for many years, Baggy hadn’t been enjoying the best of health in recent times.

I remember listening to my late father talking about the deeds of Baggy Hillis as a jockey.

“One of the toughest and most skilled riders especially over fences you’d ever see” was my father’s assessment.

One story about Baggy Hillis which has become part of racing folklore, concerned the toughest race of them all, the Great Northern Steeplechase at Ellerslie.

Hillis was due to ride the Colin Jillings trained Brockton in both the Great Northern Hurdles and Steeples.

In those days of course, the Hurdles was run on a Saturday with the Steeples two days later.

Brockton was everyone’s fancy to complete the double which he duly did with Baggy Hillis in the saddle.

It was only after guiding Brockton to victory that Hillis revealed he had broken his arm two weeks earlier.

Desperate not to alert racing officials, Baggy just strapped up the arm and got on with the business of riding Brockton to victory.

Trust me, they don’t make ’em like that anymore!

RIP Baggy.

I’ll catch you next week.