After suffering nasty facial injuries following a freak accident at Gundagai on April 11, Winona Costin was sidelined for two months before making an early return to the saddle in June.
Despite battling ongoing issues with her injuries that will eventually require multiple surgeries, the popular country and provincial hoop has been in the same career-best form that saw her win the 2014/15 Sydney’s apprentice title.
There has been no better country jockey to start the 2021/22 season either, with Costin riding 16 winners in the bush and 20 winners in total when you add her four provincial and city victories.
“So far, so good,” Costin said.
“It has just been a really good start. I always just try and do my best on every horse and as long as I am putting in the effort, that is the main thing, and the wins are just a bonus.”
Registering 20 victories through the first seven and a half weeks of the season at a winning strike rate of 19.2% makes the 26-year-old one of the most prolific hoops in the state and Costin said she was now focused on staying fit and potentially recording her best season to date.
“I had my best season when I was apprentice, but since I have been a senior, I’ve had a lot of injuries and have never ridden a full season,” Costin explained.
“It’s been hard to match that (86 winners), and I’m striving to do my best and if things keep going the way they are, I can hopefully match that as a senior.
“My goal is to always keep improving and just be better than I was last season.”
Good rides have started to find Costin too, with her winning form attracting leading stables and more importantly, leading chances.
“You definitely get on much better quality of horses when you are winning,” Costin laughed.
“It makes your job easy, and it’s been quite good lately and Gai (Waterhouse) has been taking horses to the country and provincials and I’ve been able to get on most of them.”
Typifying Costin’s early season success has been the talented jockey’s phenomenal run at Nowra that has seen her ride seven winners across two meetings.
On September 10, Costin booted home four winners, riding a double for the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott stable and snaring winners for Kerry Parker and Amanda Turner.
On September 17, Costin than added another three winners to her growing tally, helping the Waterhouse/Bott and Parker stables again, while also giving Mike Van Gestel get a well-deserved winner.
“I have always had success at Nowra but not quite as good as these meetings,” Costin said.
“Obviously to ride four in a day, it doesn’t happen often, and I’ve been lucky to be on the right horses, so it has been quite good of late.”
When asked what she made of Nowra, Costin said the ‘fairness’ of the track was the winning feature.
“I love riding there. It’s such a big open track and it has been playing really fair of late and I actually had my very first trial there, so I’ve always liked going back.”
Without giving too much away, Costin was confident of another big day at Nowra on Friday.
“I have some nice rides. I will just go in and ride them to the best of my ability and hopefully we can have another good day,” Costin said.
The in-form jockey could very well be in for a mammoth three days, with seven rides at Nowra on Friday, six at Goulburn on Saturday and six at Bathurst on Sunday, including leading chances in feature races, The Panorama and Bathurst Cup.
“I will just keep doing what I’m doing. I have some really nice rides at Bathurst on Sunday,”
“I’m on Philipsburg in The Panorama. He is a really talented horse and I do like his chances.”