Ulrika Holmquist pictured with former employer Lee Somervell.  Photo: Trish Dunell

Kiwi summer stint for globetrotting Holmquist

Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk
8 December 2023

Globetrotting Swedish jockey Ulrika Holmquist has made a homecoming of sorts, returning to New Zealand to ride for the summer.

Holmquist arrived in New Zealand a decade ago to work in the racing industry, but soon found herself in the saddle and on a career path to becoming a jockey.

She was initially apprenticed to Lee Somervell before transferring to Anne Herbert, and enjoyed plenty of success downunder, recording 40 wins before returning to Europe to continue her riding career.

“I loved it here,” Holmquist said. “I think it is a beautiful country and the people here are very kind and helpful.

“I have a lot of close friends here and I like the racing here, it is a high standard and you get a lot of black-type racing in New Zealand for being such a small country.

“Getting to ride with some of the world’s best jockeys on the big days here was memorable.”

Upon her return to Sweden, Holmquist quickly made a name for herself as a rising star in the European riding ranks and over the last few years she has taken advantage of the winter off-season in her homeland to experience riding in racing jurisdictions all around the world.

“I have done a lot of riding in other countries as well because we don’t have a winter season,” she said.

“Last winter I was riding in France. The year before that I was riding in Saudi Arabia and Dubai, which was very cool. I have also been over to America a few times with racing.

“I have really enjoyed trying racing in different countries, you learn something new from each country and each surface you race on.”

With racing in Sweden entering its winter hiatus, Holmquist thought it was timely to return to the country where her riding career began.

“I thought it was a good opportunity to come back here and ride. I also wanted to see some of my friends and connections that I made over here. I am really happy to be back,” she said.

“I will be here until at least March and if I like it I might stay longer. Last time I was over I stayed for a long time. I like it here.”

Holmquist arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday and isn’t wasting anytime, engaged to ride at Arawa Park on Sunday.

“Like any other jockey, you don’t want to have too much time off, especially now when the weather is nice and the racing is good. I am really looking forward to getting back in the saddle,” she said.

Holmquist will ride No Agenda Nigel in the Greenlight Insurance Brokers 1400 for Stephen Ralph and Covermeinsunshine in The Rotorua Club 1230 for Trevor Da Cruz.

“I have ridden for both of the trainers before when I was an apprentice. It is nice that they are supporting me again,” Holmquist said.

Basing herself in Cambridge for the summer, Holmquist is utilising the services of jockey agent Ted McLachlan and said she is looking forward to reacquainting herself with the local trainers.

“I am staying in Cambridge, but I am going to see if I can ride out a little bit in Matamata as well,” she said.

“I wouldn’t be shy to travel either if it is a nice horse, but I am going to mostly be riding up north.”

While looking to ride as many winners as she can, Holmquist said she would like to tick one particular goal off her list before returning to Europe.

“It would be great to win a black-type race during my stint here, it is something I have been wanting to do in this country,” she said.

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