It was a very special moment for Ryan Bradley and his family as the young apprentice jockey crossed the finishing line to win the Cooma Cup aboard Nieces and Nephews on Saturday.
Not only was it his second win as a jockey and his first victory for new bosses Barbara Joseph, Paul and Matt Jones, it is the same race his grandfather and former hoop Henry Cartwright enjoyed success in.
“My grandfather Henry Cartwright won three Cooma Cups and I’ve now won one,” Bradley proudly stated.
“He was there on the day, and that made it really special.”
The youngster faced a nervous wait to find out if he had won on Saturday, with Nieces and Nephews getting home by the barest of margins when winning by 0.01 of a length from the Darryl Rolfe-trained Final Showdown (Richard Bensley) in second, while in third and 0.59 of a length off the pace was the Peter Kirby-trained Broo Boss (Anaelle Gangotena).
“I didn’t know if I had won it when we crossed the line, and I asked him (Bensley) if he got me, and he couldn’t tell me and I was nervous pulling up but when I saw Matt Jones talking on the microphone, I knew he had won and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, I was like Lunar Park.”
In a dream start, it was Bradley’s first day riding for the Joseph and Jones Racing team, and the 18-year-old was thrilled to deliver his new stable a country cup victory.
“I’ve only been with them for a week and to win the Cooma Cup was pretty special, especially doing it for them as it was my first day in the saddle under them,” Bradley said.
When quizzed on his move, Bradley said it all came back to opportunities and the chance to better himself.
“It was a pretty simple transition across, and it should be good, as I am looking to get more involved and ride more trackwork and hopefully get more opportunities,” Bradley said.
“Plus, the chance to work with Quayde Krogh and his partner Vanessa Grant; it’s going to be beneficial for my riding.
“I am very excited actually. They have got a lot of stock, and stables in Canberra and the Sapphire Coast, and they have a lot of classy horses, and hopefully they can drop some of them back in grade and take advantage of my claim.”
It seems as though Bradley was always destined to be a hoop, but he admitted that there was another love in his life before trading the footy for the saddle.
“Racing is in my blood; Rikki Cartwright is my uncle and Matt Cartwright is my cousin, and all of mum’s family is into racing but dad’s family is into footy,” Bradley laughed.
“Growing up, I loved my footy from a young age and played it all the way through, but everyone grew and I didn’t, but I always loved the horses and watching my grandfather and uncle on television, so I got on my first horse in the round yard and then I was down in Melbourne and my aunty literally taught me everything.”
The aunty that Bradley speaks off is Leonie Proctor, who trains with her mother Lyn Tolson, and the youngster learned his craft down south before returning home to take up his apprenticeship in Queanbeyan.
“I’m originally from Queanbeyan and I learned so much in Victoria, but I got a bit home sick,” Bradley said.
“I’ve been home for a year. I was with Joe Cleary for about 10 months, and then I made that recent move to Barb Joseph, and Paul and Matt Jones’ team.”
He might still be a four-kilogram claimer, but Bradley is reaching for the stars, while also keeping a level head as he thinks about his career in the saddle.
“In the long-term, the goal is to make it to Sydney and compete with the big boys, but the short-term goal is to outride my country claim, learn along the way, and ride at a lot of different tracks,” Bradley said.
For full results from Cooma, readers can click here.