Special day for Calitz

Luane Calitz recording her first win on In A Trance at Te Aroha last Sunday.

Luane Calitz recording her first win on In A Trance at Te Aroha last Sunday.

South African-born Luane Calitz will never forget the final jumps meeting of the 2016 year at Te Aroha last Sunday.

As an amateur rider, Calitz had two rides on the day and, after a third placing aboard the Ralph Manning-trained Into The Mystic, she celebrated her first win aboard stablemate In A Trance in the next event, the Capistrano Lodge 2200.

“It’s the best feeling ever,” said the 21-year-old who is, not surprisingly, still floating on “cloud nine” over the milestone.

This is the first year Calitz has ridden as an amateur rider and the win came in her eighth ride after a second, the third (on Into The Mystic) and two fifths. The first of those eight mounts was late June and one of her biggest supporters has been Manning, for whom she rides trackwork each day.

“It’s the best feeling to get my first winner for him,” said Calitz. “He has a lot of faith in me.

“When he said he was going to put me on In A Trance at Te Aroha I was so thankful. She’s the first horse I’ve ridden before – all the other ones I’ve ridden in races I’d never sat on before.

“I knew when to push her and when to keep back. It was no nice to be able to ride her.”

Calitz had ridden In A Trance in her previous start when finishing fifth behind Teddytwinkletoes at Rotorua and Manning was thrilled with the way she handled the Roc de Cambes mare last Sunday.

“It was a perfect ride,” said Manning, who races In A Trance with two of his mates, Gordon Calder and Tony Coombe. “Everything I told her to do, she did it word for word.

“She works hard out and wants to be good so it was good to see her get the win. She deserved it.”

Calitz settled In A Trance back in the last few and improved her with 1000 metres to run to be up challenging for the lead approaching the home turn.

In A Trance then had to shake off Ascomanni, who had led on straightening and was fighting back strongly in front, but Calitz managed to get a bit more out of her mount and got her home by a long neck.

Calitz was also pleased with the third placing of stablemate Into The Mystic, though she gave her a scare when knuckling over on jumping from the barrier.

“It was her first run over ground and I thought she did well,” she said. “She’s only a little mare but she tries.”

Calitz, the partner of jumps jockey Charlie Studd, was brought up in South Africa and her introduction to horses was in the showjumping field.

When she shifted to New Zealand with her family a couple of years ago and settled in Palmerston North she linked up with Awapuni trainer Mike Breslin.

“I had no involvement with racehorses before I got here and it was Mike who put me on my first racehorse and basically I learned from him,” said Calitz. “I spent two or three months there and I’m so grateful to him.

“I then went to England for six months polo grooming and had a month with Kelly Burne (at Hastings) when I came back. It was good with Kelly but I wanted to be more central where there are more horses to ride so I came up to Cambridge and worked for Mark Brooks, then Shane Crawford for a while.

“Since then I’ve been freelance trackwork riding for Ralph and Stephen Marsh. I’m riding nine to 12 horses in work a morning and I love it.”

Though she also loves the experience of riding in races as an amateur jockey, she wants to take it a step further.

“I’d like to go professional and become an apprentice,” she said. “I’m very passionate about what I’m doing and want to be good at it.”

Former successful jockey Gavin McKeon has also been giving Calitz some helpful advice, including lessons riding the mechanical horse at the Cambridge Jockey Club, and he believes she has the determination and passion to take her riding to another level.