Aaron Bullock had every reason to take some time to himself earlier this season following a historic 208-win haul in 2022/23, which saw him claim the NSW and Australian Jockey’s Premierships.
The 33-year-old took two trips to the snow in August to celebrate his best season in the saddle before spending a week in Airlie Beach for his birthday.
Last month, he finally married fellow jockey Amelia Bullock (née Denby) before their honeymoon in Thailand, spending another three weeks away from racing.
“I probably missed five or six weeks, but I was due for a break, and it was good to get my mind away from the game, get married, and enjoy life,” Bullock said.
“I really enjoyed the week off in Thailand, and just not having the pressure of making weight, day in and day out, or facing the challenge of diving into the 50-degree bath every morning.”
Bullock put everything he had into last season and stayed in the saddle until Melbourne Cup day.
He said it was a team effort, with Amelia’s support a big reason why he has taken his exploits on the track to all-conquering heights.
“Life’s been quite good; I’ve been able to achieve more in four years with Amelia than in the 29 years I wasn’t with her,” Bullock said.
“She doesn’t put the pressure on me, and she goes about things quietly, but she definitely gets the best out of me.
“I never thought a relationship was possible for me while racing and doing what I do, but having someone who understands me and the industry is a bonus.
“The last three months of the season, I basically wasn’t home, and If I was, I was only sleeping, but thank god she understood what I was trying to do.
“I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do it without her.”
Bullock is riding as well as ever, and following his three weeks away, he returned to the saddle this week, booting home six winners in two days.
Riding at Taree on Monday, he brought up a double before continuing his stellar run at Tamworth on Tuesday with a winning quartet.
Making the two days all the more impressive is that he combined with six different trainers, getting wins for Craig Matin, Mack Griffith, Greg McFarlane, and Stephen Sutherland at Tamworth and Luke Thomas and Kris Lees at Taree.
“It’s always good to get a few winners, especially after a break, and I’ve come back feeling really good,” Bullock said.
Bullock then ventured to Mudgee on Friday, and he has yet to show any signs of slowing down when bringing up a feature-race double.
Firstly, he guided the Cody Morgan-trained Seguso ($2.60) to victory in the $50,000 Mudgee Cup Day Sprint (1200m) before taking out the $75,000 Mudgee Cup (1600m) Big Dance qualifier on the Kris Lees-trained Tavi Time ($1.65).
It was an ultra-impressive win, with the Newcastle galloper streaking away for a nearly seven-lengths victory.
“He’s definitely got ability this horse; above-average ability,” Bullock said.
“I was quite taken with him today; he jumped well, came back under me, listened to everything I asked him to do, and I know he is a horse that when you ask him to come forward up under you, he does, and from the 500m to the line, I still had gears on the line; he’s a serious hose, and he’s in for a bright future.”
Bullock appears to be in a good space, and with his weight under control, a happy and content jockey is keen to see what he can achieve this season, suggesting he can win another Australian Jockey’s Premiership.
“I could definitely go back-to-back, but for me, setting goals too far out can bring me undone,” Bullock said.
“I have always said if I could ride 100 winners in any season, I’ll be happy, and I would always like to improve, but geez, it would be very hard to improve on last year.
“For now, I’ll just go out and do my job and give my horses every chance, and if I do get to the end of the season, and I’m in a position to win or go better, I’ll push for it and give it my best.”
Bullock faces a busy few days, with his successful trip to Mudgee today (Friday) and Sunday’s Armidale Cup program split by another trip to town.
At Rosehill Gardens, he will team up with Paul Messara and Leah Gavranich when combining with Akasawa, a horse he has enjoyed much success on, with the pair taking on the $160,000 Country Classic (2000m).
“I’m getting a few more opportunities in town, which is good,” Bullock said.
“I’m back down this weekend, and I’ve got a few nice chances. I’m on Tanglewood for Todd (Howlett) in the Highway and Akasawa in the County Classic, and both are winning hopes.”