Dynamic duo Connie Greig and Leandro Ribeiro have taken out the 2021/22 NSW Picnic Premierships in dominant fashion.
Despite a stop-start season marred by Covid-19 and rain-induced abandonments, Greig still trained 18 winners on the NSW picnic circuit to take out the NSW Picnic Trainer’s Premiership, which was eight more than the next best, with Peter Sinclair finishing in second place on 10 winners and Doug Gorrel rounding out the top three with nine winners.
The Dubbo trainer also registered 24 minor placings from 73 starters, giving the in-form stable an impressive 24.7%-win rate and 57.5%-place rate, earning connections just shy of $100,000.
It was all one-way going in the NSW Picnic Jockey Premiership, with Ribeiro putting up some spectacular numbers.
From 91 rides, the 37-year-old rode 32 winners and 32 placings, earning connections $137,650 in prize money, while riding at a 35.2%-win rate and a 70%-place rate.
Ribeiro had no rivals to the title in 2021/22, finishing well ahead of the second-placed Ricky Blewitt with 14 wins, and both William Stanley and Anaelle Gangotena, with the pair finishing third and fourth respectively with 11 wins.
During the season, Ribeiro combined with Greig to win 15 races, with the pair dominating the picnic scene, which was highlighted by a huge effort at Condobolin in February and their Ardlethan Cup win with Gossip in March.
Ribeiro, who is only in his second year riding in Australia, missed out on the title in 2020/21, falling five wins short of champion picnic hoop, Maddy Wright, and the Brazilian born hoop said he came out with every intention of winning the 21/22 title.
“As soon as is started at the picnics, I thought I would go out there and win wherever I could and I did pretty well the year before but just missed out when I got suspended and missed a few meetings, but coming into this year, I thought I had a good chance,” Ribeiro said.
The popular amateur jockey was happy to be linked with Greig and other good trainers, with owners often clambering for his services.
“It was a good season and it helped to have that support from Connie and other trainers,” Ribeiro said.
“In the end, it is a good result and I’m very happy to have won the premiership.”
While the Sydney based jockey does travel many kilometres to go to meetings, he said he wouldn’t change a thing leading into the 2022/23 season.
“Wherever they have meetings, I will be going unless something holds me back with suspension or injury, but hopefully I can get out there and collect many more winners and picnic cups,” Ribeiro said.
“The traveling can get a bit hard, but when you get out in the country, it’s good driving, and normally I drive with Wayne Wheatley, which makes it easier, and so far, I have enjoyed my involvement with the picnics.”
Greig, who also finished second in the 2021/21 premiership when falling two wins short of Brett Robb, was happy to join Ribiero at the top of their respective premierships.
“We both sort of thought we would go close, and we both ran second last year, so it was good to see both of us finish on top,” Greig said.
“We thought when things started so well from the get-go that we would have a good season and things just kept going good.”
Greig had a good year in general, finishing 10th overall on the NSW Country Trainer’s Premiership, preparing 35 winners and 64 placings, which is an extraordinary feat when considering the size of her stable.
“We went top-10 in the country and that was a good mix of picnic and country winners,” Greig said.
“We don’t have many horses; we don’t have the staff and we are not a big stable and we get second-hand horses and try and do our best with them.”
Greig travelled to 17 picnic meetings last season, travelling approximately 10,000km in the process and she confirmed that she would be back at it in 2022/23.
“Money wise, if they can win at the TAB, that’s where you head, but we have a mixture of horses, and I think we went to about 17 picnics last season, and that’s without the ones that were washed out and or cancelled because of Covid, so there would have been more,” Greig said.
“I will be supporting them again. You always have horses that are suitable, and we will be backing up when and where we can.”
The 2022/23 NSW picnic season kicks off in Cobar on August 20, and for a full calendar of meetings, readers can click here.