Thornton: Horses are my life

Racing Desk
28 December 2017

It would be no surprise to many that if there was a picture under the term work-ethic in the dictionary it would show Cambridge jockey Trudy Thornton.

The unassuming mother of three has forged a remarkable career in New Zealand racing since she took her first ride as an apprentice back in 1981.

Trudy Thornton returns to scale aboard Authentic Paddy with strapper Miranda Duthie Photo: Trish Dunell Photography

A member of the elusive “thousand wins” club of local riders, Thornton added a further milestone on Tuesday when she piloted veteran galloper Authentic Paddy to Group One glory in the Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie.

It was the fourth elite level victory for 54-year-old Thornton, definitely one worth celebrating, although you don’t get that impression when questioning her about the result.

“I got asked after the race how it rated on what I had done in the past and truthfully it didn’t register that much,” she said.

“Of course there is real satisfaction in the achievement but as I told them then, I always prefer to look ahead in life rather than behind so I didn’t really have an answer.

“I’m paid to do my job and I try to do it to the best of my ability every time I go out there.

“He’s a lovely old horse who does things right and the tactics we had for the race worked well and we got the win as a result.”

Thornton does admit she has fellow jockey, Jonathan Riddell, to thank for gaining the ride on the Lisa Latta-trained galloper after she found out he had recommended her to the Awapuni trainer.

“I got a call from the stable asking me if I would ride the horse and I was pleased to accept,” she said.

“It wasn’t until the day after the race that Jonathan told me he had mentioned to Lisa that I would be a good fit for the horse.

“I guess I owe him a beer now.”

In typical Thornton fashion, she was back at trackwork at 4:30 am the morning after her Ellerslie triumph, a routine she has now been at for close to 40 years.

“Colin Jillings once told me I was the hardest working jockey he knew and Roger James has told me that as well,” she said.

“I guess I’ve always worked hard, it’s something I’ve tried to instil in my children and something that just comes naturally. You only get out of life what you put in and I’ve never been afraid to work for what I want to achieve.

“I love being around the horses, I guess you can say they are my life in a lot of ways. On the days I’m not riding I will pop down to the stables and pull manes or do any of the other hundreds of jobs that are part and parcel of stable life.

“I don’t try and put myself on a pedestal, I just like to be one of the team.”

While Thornton is known for her competitive spirit and never-say-die attitude you sense some softening when she speaks about her three children.

Her daughter Samantha Collett has successfully followed in her mother’s footsteps and is currently well-clear at the head of the national jockeys’ premiership.

“Samantha is having a great run and is getting the success for the work she has put in to get to where she is now,” she said.

“When we are on the track together there is no quarter given and we are there to compete against each other, but I’m pleased when she gets a victory, just as she is for me when I manage one.

“I’m proud of her just as I am of my other two with Jessica now a qualified lawyer and my son Ben, who is getting ready for his fifth form year at high school.

“I’ve tried to set an example for them that hard work has its rewards and hopefully they have taken that lesson on board.”

Thornton will be back in action at Ellerslie on Friday, although she admits she is looking forward to New Year’s Day where she is well placed to snare a second Group One victory within a week when she pilots Packing Eagle in the Sistema Railway (1200m).

“I’ve got a good book of rides for the day with Packing Eagle one of my best,” she said.

“Like a lot of the runners, he is looking for a good track and a good draw, but he is a classy animal at his best. He hasn’t had a run since he won at Rotorua back in October, but he has performed well fresh in the past and I think he is in with a good chance.” – NZ Racing Desk.

You might also like