Todd Bailey gets the monkey of his back at Boorowa

Todd Bailey (outside) rides the Russell Hogan-trained Fast Pulse to victory at Boorowa on Saturday.
Photo: DJM Racing Pix.

It was two years and 33 starts in the making, but amateur jockey Todd Bailey finally has the monkey off his back after breaking through for his first winner at Boorowa.

Riding for Griffith trainer Russell Hogan, Bailey landed a very popular win when he greeted the judge first on Fast Pulse when taking out the 1200m Maiden Plate.

“I was rapt to get the winner at Boorowa,” Bailey said. 

“Russell Hogan has been one of my biggest supporters, and he was tickled pink to give me my first win.”

Coincidently, the 26-year-old took his first-ever ride at Boorowa in 2021, finishing second on the Neil Osborne-trained St Rose.

He would only have two rides at Boorowa before spending nine months on the sideline, eventually returning to Bedgerabong in 2022. 

Due to the recent big wet, it was a stop-start season for all amateur jockeys, meaning Bailey spent more time on the sideline. 

“I had my first ride at Boorowa on a mare (St Rose) that dad owned, and it just got beat,” Bailey said. 

“After that, the meetings died off for me, COVID kicked in, and there weren’t too many meetings actually running, so I took a bit of a break.

“I came back to Bedgerabong last year, and my horse flipped on me getting out of the mounting yard, but I picked up a ride for Wayne Wheatley and 50 metres out of the gates, he (Hoffy’s Dream) made a hard left turn and dumped me.

“I probably had a couple of cracked ribs but walked away after the fall.

“After Bedgerabong and Cootamundra, all the meetings I took rides at, they started getting washed out.”

Bailey finally enjoyed some luck earlier this year and could ride at Bedgerabong, Bathurst, Tottenham, Crookwell, Tomingley, and Bourke. However, he still couldn’t boot home that elusive first winner and headed to Boorowa as a 29-start maiden. 

“It was getting frustrating, but I was copping it,” Bailey said. 

“Col Hodges pulled me aside one day and told me that Hugh Bowman didn’t win his first ride at the picnics until start 25.

“I started panicking a little bit after 25, but we finally got there at Boorowa after 33 starts.”

Bailey, who is based in Tamworth these days as a trackwork rider and foreman for Cody Morgan, is originally from Canberra and was pleased to win close to home.

“I told the boss that I was missing Grenfell and Cootamundra but that I was going to Boorowa,” Bailey said. 

“That’s where I started, and it was good to get a win there.”

Bailey, who learned his craft in Canberra, explained how he got into the racing industry. 

“Dad (Michael Bailey) used to work in racing years ago when he was a teenager, and he had trotters when we were here in Canberra, and he was always good mates with Gratz Vella, so I started working for Gratzy when I was 14,” Bailey said. 

“I’d work weekends and school holidays, and once I finished college, I did a trade and then worked for Neil and Denise Osborne, and they got me up to riding trackwork and pushed me to get my amateur licence.”

Four months into his stint with Morgan, the amateur hoop sees a big difference in his riding.

Todd Bailey. Photo: DJM Racing Pix.

“Cody is a great bloke to work for, and with him being a jockey himself early on, he’s been helping me a lot with my riding, and I’ve certainly seen a big improvement from where I was 12 months ago,” Bailey said. 

Picnic racing starts to move north for the cooler months, kicking off with Marthaguy’s program on Saturday, May 6, before the Golden Triangle at Moree on May 27, Mallawa on June 10, Talmoi on June 24, and finally, the Wean meeting on July 8.

Now based in the North West, Bailey hopes to make a mark and get better rides.

“Thankfully, they are all moving closer to Tamworth,” Bailey laughed.

“I’ll just try and kick things off and get a few more decent rides; I’ve been taking some of the bottom of the barrel horses that Ricky (Blewitt) and Leo (Ribeiro) don’t take rides on, but with some luck, I’ll get some more chances. 

“Cody is going to buy a horse to race at the picnics, and a few of the other trainers around Tamworth will put horses in for me too, so hopefully, it leads to some wins.”

It was a big day at Boorowa on Saturday, with Canberra trainer Darryl Rolfe dominating with three winners and victories in the Boorowa Cup and Boorowa Sprint.

For Boorowa’s results, click here.