Holmquist heading home to Sweden

Ulrika proudly posing with her parents, Asa and Jan, after winning at Matamata last January.

Ulrika proudly posing with her parents, Asa and Jan, after winning at Matamata last January.

Apprentice rider Ulrika Holmquist is hoping to sign off her current New Zealand riding stint with a win on the Stephen Ralph-trained Admiral at Ellerslie today.

The softly spoken Swedish native is heading back to her homeland to take up an opportunity for higher education after obtaining a scholarship which will allow her to undertake study to qualify as a veterinarian.

For the 23-year-old it is the chance to expand her passion for animals, although she is sad to be leaving the country she has come to love since arriving in New Zealand back in 2012.

“I’m really sad to go as I have so many friends here in New Zealand and I just love it here, but the opportunity I have is one I could never turn down,” she explained.

“I’ve always wanted to expand my studies as I’m lucky enough to have been quite a good student when I was younger, so when this scholarship became available I decided to take it.

“I had applied about 12 months ago, but had missed out. But they contacted me again to say it was available if I wanted it so I had a good think about and decided to give it a try.”

That means Holmquist will have to temporarily put her promising riding career on hold, although she does have a definite Plan B should the study prove too challenging a task.

“My idea at present is to go back and complete the initial stage of the degree which will take me through until around Christmas time,” she said.

“I’m coming back to New Zealand then for a couple of weeks and then I’m heading back to continue the course. That’s the plan at this stage, although if it does prove too tough I still have the option of returning here and starting riding again.

Ulrika Holmquist winning on her favourite horse, Ysabella Brave, at Matamata last season. (Photo: Kenton Wright, Race Images).

Ulrika Holmquist winning on her favourite horse, Ysabella Brave, at Matamata last season. (Photo: Kenton Wright, Race Images).

“I fly out on Saturday night so my rides at Taupo (yesterday) and the one at Ellerslie on Saturday will be my last here. I actually hadn’t planned to take any rides at Ellerslie, but Stephen asked me to ride Admiral and he is such a neat horse that I couldn’t refuse.

“It would be a bit of a fairy-tale to sign off with a win but that’s what I’m hoping can happen.”

Holmquist won’t be completely finished with riding after today’s mount as she will also be in action in Norway a week after returning home.

“I go back to my parents place in Gothenburg to start with, then I will be riding at the Derby meeting in Oslo a week later,” she said.

“One of my contacts there knew I was coming back so asked me if I could ride one or two for him so that will be a real thrill.

“Once that’s over I then head to the University which is just outside Stockholm and take up my course.”

Holmquist was quick to acknowledge the support she had received from many people in the thoroughbred industry during her time in New Zealand.

“I’ve been lucky enough to ride some lovely horses, but I would say it’s the people I’ve met that I cherish the most,” she said.

“My first boss, Lee Somervell, was just wonderful and helped me so much when I was getting started.

“However, I think I’m going to miss Anne Herbert the most as she is really like a second mother to me. She has given me so many opportunities and really looked after me and I can’t speak highly enough about what she means to me.”

Holmquist leaves the New Zealand riding ranks with a career tally of 40 wins with four of those achieved on the Herbert-trained Ysabella Brave, whom she rates as her favourite mount.

– NZ Racing Desk