Stackhouse would jump at chance to ride at ‘Bool

Easy does it: Apollo Creed coasts to victory under a hold from Daniel Stackhouse.STROLL into the weighing room at Caulfield before the Blue Diamond is run and inquire if any of the jockeys preparing for the $1 million scamper would be interested in schooling a few jumpers next week with a view to riding one in the Grand Annual at Warrnambool.

Chances are that there would be very few takers. Yes, Glen Boss did once express an interest in partnering champion hurdler Black And Bent, although nothing came of it, while it would not surprise if lanky Steven Arnold might once have thought that obstacles were where his future lay. But one hand – belonging to one of the youngest and least experienced jockeys in the big race – would shoot up straight away.

Daniel Stackhouse, who partners two-year-old filly Quest For Peace for champion trainer Peter Moody in the Diamond, would be equally at home pushing, shoving and cajoling an aged gelding over the marathon Annual trip at the ‘Bool in May if given the chance.

Why wouldn’t he? After all, the 22-year-old had done something very similar earlier in his career. For one so young, he has crammed in plenty, riding feature-race winners over jumps in his native New Zealand as well as winning apprentices’ championships and senior riders’ premierships where he grew up, in the South Island.

He has even given away the game for a while, working on his parents’ farm, when he thought rising weight would get the better of him.

”It has been an interesting journey but I am really enjoying it now,” says the Kiwi who first came to Australia in late 2010 when he won a scholarship to ride here. ”I knew a girl who was working for Pete so my bosses, Tommy Hazlett and Pam Gerard, got in touch and I came here. I was undecided about coming back, but Pete said if you come in and ride work you will get a chance. And he has been true to his word.”

Stackhouse is certainly a jockey in a hot vein of form. On February 15 he rode five winners for the first time in his career, and the following day he piloted Golden Archer into third place, sealing a Moody stable trifecta, behind Black Caviar and Moment Of Change in the group 1 Black Caviar Lightning.

”That was an amazing feeling. She is incredible,” said the jockey, who rode his first group winner in this country the Saturday before when There’s Only One scored for Moody in the group 3 Bellmaine Stakes at Caulfield.

With a background in farming and equestrian, Stackhouse is certainly grounded as a horseman.

He credits his time as a jumps jockey with making him a better rider. His headline success was in the Hawkes Bay Steeplechase aboard Youretheman at only his third ride over obstacles, in the winter of 2010.

”I did showjumping when I was younger. I then went to Mark Walker at Matamata but I got too heavy so I thought my time was up,” he said. ”I went home to the family farm and worked for dad. Then Tony and Pam got hold of me and encouraged me to become a jumps jockey. I found after working on the farm that my weight stabilised and dropped down and I can do 54 [kilograms] now.

”I won around 30 races over fences and hurdles. I finished second in the Grand National Steeple and then rode three winners on the flat. Riding over jumps has taught me a lot and improved me as a horseman.”

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