Riddells to relocate to Cambridge

On the move to Cambridge: Speechcraft, Jonathan and Trina Riddell.

On the move to Cambridge: Speechcraft, Jonathan Riddell and wife, Trina.

An association that began back at Woodville in the early 1990s will be renewed next month when Awapuni-based trainer Trina Riddell and her jockey husband, Jonathan, head north to relocate to Cambridge.

Riddell has taken up an opportunity to work for leading trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman in a pre-training operation, while also continuing to train a small team of her own. She will be based at the property of former Cambridge trainer Mark Brooks, who recently moved to Ballarat.

It is an opportunity for Riddell that proved too hard to turn down, despite her and her husband and their two daughters having to leave a well-established home base at Awapuni.

“It all started when I brought Speechcraft up to Ellerslie back in December,” she explained.

“I originally worked for Murray when he was based in Woodville and did about eight years with him before he shifted up to Cambridge. He was really good to me and I thoroughly enjoyed the job.

“Every time he saw me he’d ask me when I was going to come and work for him again and we used to have a good laugh about the old days. He caught up with me at Ellerslie during the Christmas carnival and mentioned there might be an opportunity available later in the year and things sort of snowballed from there.”

Once Brooks had finalised his move to Australia, Baker formalised an offer to Riddell, who made a trip north to inspect the potential set-up before sitting down with her husband to make a decision.

“It wasn’t easy giving up all we had worked for here at home but when we really thought about it the advantages clearly outweighed the potential negatives,” she said.

“We definitely had to think about our kids and how it would affect them but we have a plan in place now that will see us head north in early July and we should be settled in around the 10th of that month.

“Our youngest daughter will be coming with us immediately, but our eldest will be staying back in Palmerston North to complete her first year of NCEA as the move would be too big a disruption for her.

“I think she’s looking forward to joining us after that as she is mad keen on show-jumping and knows just what an environment Cambridge offers for that side of things.

“The other big opportunity is for Jonathan as it has been a real struggle of late with the lack of suitable horses and meetings down in the Central Districts. Even just having the chance to ride regularly at the trials will be a big assist, as they struggle to get a trials day together once a month here and even then it can be only a handful of heats.

“He will continue to freelance and is hoping the bigger pool of horses, meetings and venues available will get some momentum going for him.”

Aside from packing up an entire household, one of the more difficult tasks for Riddell was informing a loyal group of owners about the move.

“We’re only taking a handful of horses that I pretty much own so we had to go about the sad task of rehoming the rest of the stable,” she said. “We’ve been really lucky and I’m delighted with how that has all gone. As an example Wiggle will be heading to Kevin Myers and I think that will be a great move for him.

“I’ve had a really great bunch of owners who have supported me so I can’t thank them enough, however, they all understood where we were coming from and have been really supportive of the move.”

Speechcraft will be one of the horses moving north with Riddell, along with former New Zealand St. Leger winner Iffwedance, who has been off the scene with a tendon injury since December 2015. The rising seven-year-old has been back in work since last summer, although a return to the racetrack won’t happen until next season.

“He came back well after the injury and we gave him a long and slow build-up during the summer,” said Riddell.

“He had six or seven gallops and we considered giving him a run at the trials in the autumn but the tracks just didn’t really suit at that time. We decided to put him away again while it is wet and start getting him ready for the spring.

“He is very lightly raced having only had 26 starts so providing he can stand a full preparation it will be good to see him back as he is a pretty smart horse.”

Until then Riddell will have her hands full educating up to 30 budding equine stars at a time for the powerful Baker-Forsman operation, a task she can’t wait to get started on.

NZ Racing Desk.