Hoping Te Rapa is again happy hunting ground

Lee Tiley (275x183) Former jockey Lee Tiley will be out to relive the winning feeling when she returns to the scene of her last triumph at Te Rapa on Sunday.

Tiley (41) is one of the 10 former jockeys competing in the two-race Cambridge Stud-sponsored Classic Jockeys Series, the first leg of which is run at the Cambridge Jockey Club’s meeting and the other on December 20 at the Waikato Racing Club’s fixture.

Tiley (nee Rutherford) was one of New Zealand’s top female jockeys with 578 “local” wins on the board, along with success in Singapore/Malaysia, Macau and South Africa. The last of those wins came at Te Rapa on February 4, 2006 on the Stephen and Trevor McKee-trained Derry City.

A week after that maiden 2000-metre success Tiley was in hospital as a result of breaking a leg when dropped from a horse at home.

“Complications set in and my recovery took a lot longer than usual,” recalled Tiley. “So really I was more forced to retire from riding. I had no choice.”

At the time of the injury Tiley was looking forward to riding Sculptor in the Gr. 1 NZ Derby, having ridden Peter McKenzie’s galloper to victory in Ellerslie’s Gr. 2 Great Northern Guineas, one of two black-type races she won on that day. The other stakes win on December 26, 2005 came in the Listed Newmarket Handicap on Royal Entertainer.

Tiley was apprenticed to Pukekohe trainer Richard Collett and kicked home her first winner, Master Tom, at Matamata on August 8, 1991. She went on to be the country’s leading apprentice in the 1993-94 season with 76 winners, including five black-type wins.

Her most successful season was in 2002-03 when she kicked home 86 winners to finish fifth on the NZ Jockeys’ Premiership behind Lance O’Sullivan. Her mounts that term won over $1.2 million in stakes and included four Group or Listed races.

Tiley won 37 black-type races in New Zealand with her best season on that count being in 1996-97 when her 46 wins included seven Group or Listed races. Among that tally was victory on Winning Wave in Trentham’s Thorndon Mile, the first of two Group One races she won in her career.

Coincidentally, both of Tiley’s Group One wins were in the Thorndon Mile, picking up the second one seven years later on Sir Kinloch.

Trentham was also the scene of Group Two success in the 2002 Wellington Thoroughbred Breeders Guineas on Jack The Stripper, the 1998 Gr. 3 Thompson Handicap on Trans Siberia and the 2004 Listed Lightning Handicap on Gwen’s Rules.

It was also at Trentham that Tiley won two features in 1997, the Trentham Stakes and St Leger, on her favourite horse, the McKee-trained Interval.

Tiley’s first rode Interval as an early three-year-old when unplaced in the 1995 Listed Lindauer Guineas Trial and didn’t get back on him until late that season when second at Ellerslie. She then rode him in all bar one of his remaining New Zealand starts.

Tiley and Interval had a memorable 1996-97 season with the Gr. 2 Awapuni Gold Cup added to the two Trentham feature wins. The partnership also finished second to Yobro in the Auckland Cup, second to Magnet Bay in the Gr. 1 Harrah’s NZ Stakes, fourth in the Queen Elizabeth Handicap and fifth in the Wellington Cup.

Other major races won by Tiley included the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (then Gr. 2) at Te Aroha on Deianira, the Lindauer Guineas (Jack The Stripper), NRM Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Pay My Bail), Riccarton’s Winter Cup (Red Baron), Manawatu Cup (Chuckashot), Invercargill Gold Cup (Khadeelah), Taumarunui Cup (Clean Cut) and the Cornwall Handicap (Brilliant Venture and Bejayjay).

Tiley rode a dozen winners during a six-week stint with South African trainer Gary Alexander in 1997 and spent 18 months riding in Macau. “I rode quite a lot of winners in Macau and did well in Singapore/Malaysia, too,” she said.

Since ending her career as a jockey, Tiley has maintained her fitness more than most people, being a personal fitness trainer. But she still recalls the thrills she had riding in races.

“I miss it,” she said. “But I’ve got more involvement now. I’m riding a lot more trackwork now that Nigel (her husband) is back training more horses. I’ve also ridden in seven or eight jumpouts. It’s great to get on a fast horse.”

Tiley will be looking to The Show, her mount in the Jockeys Classic, to show a bit of speed on Sunday. And she’s got a fair bit of inside knowledge of the horse’s talent as the four-year-old son of High Chaparral is trained by her husband.

The Show has been placed five times from nine starts and, though his raceday performances have been over longer distances than the 1000 metres of Sunday’s test, he is fresh-up and did win at the trip at the Ellerslie trials earlier this month when ridden by stable apprentice Rowena Smyth.