Leandro Ribeiro had a dream start to his Australian racing career at Nyngan earlier this month when winning on debut.
The Brazilian hoop proceeded to ride a winning-double, booting home Mendonsa Kiss for Rodney Robb in the 900m Maiden Plate before helping Eagleworks to greet the judge first for Connie Greig in the 1250m Class B Handicap.
Ribeiro will want to back up this immediate success when he travels to Gunnedah today, jumping aboard five rides at their picnic meeting.
“I was a bit lucky for the first time back in the saddle in Australia when riding two firsts and two seconds but it was a good experience,” Ribeiro said.
“I have a few rides for Connie Greig (today) and I hope I can ride well.”
The international hoop has been in Australian since 2017 after making the move across from England with fellow picnic hoop, Alexandre Lemarie.
“I got the chance to come across to Australia. We (Lemarie) actually came to Australia at the same time and he was the one that told me about the picnic races,” Ribeiro said.
“I was already going to the picnic races with Julia (Presits) very often and I was really impressed with it, and I wanted to get my licence.”
Prior to arriving in Australia, Ribeiro was a globe-trotter in the racing industry, having worked in England after making a name for himself as a professional jockey in Brazil.
“I was in England from 2008 to 2017 and I was doing track work and wanted to become a professional jockey there,” Ribeiro said.
“I was working for a big stable and lost a bit of inspiration and my weight was a bit heavy for a professional, so I knew I needed to make a change.”
Before moving to England, Ribeiro rode 100 winners as a professional, after getting into the industry as a 13-year-old.
“I have been riding horses since I was 13 years old and when I was 16 I went to a racing college where I started my professional career,” Ribeiro said.
“I rode a 100 winners but I was quite heavy and I was struggling to keep my weight.”
Fast-forward to his time in Australia, Ribeiro was working for Godolphin but recently made the move to the Gary Portelli stable, giving him the chance to ride at picnic meetings on the weekends.
“I just left them (Godolphin) a couple months ago, I am with Garry Portelli in Warwick Farm now and he is okay with me racing at the picnics,” Ribeiro said.
The 36-year-old isn’t rushing to get his professional’s licence either and wants to enjoy his time travelling to picnic meetings.
“For the moment, I will stick with the picnics and ride in as many races as i can,” Ribeiro said.
“I want to meet more people, see more places and I think Australia is really good fun and everyone is friendly and I am really enjoying the races.”
As far as going professional, Ribeiro said it would come down to his weight and the opportunity arising.
“If I can drop my weight, I might have a chance of going professional, but at the moment it is just about the picnic races,” Ribeiro said.
“If I get a chance I will take it, but otherwise; I would be happy to ride at the picnics.”
Ribeiro does have a long term goal though and envisions some day training in Australia.
“I would like to become a trainer in some years time. I love racing and I have learned a lot in my time,” Ribeiro said.
“That is some time off but one day.”