Young English jockey Patrick Pilley made the most of a golden opportunity at Matamata yesterday when he registered his first win in New Zealand aboard The Oaks Stud owned Bridal Veil (Niagara).
The 21-year-old partnered the favourite to an easy win in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race. Appropriately, the Niagara mare is trained by Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard, who were instrumental in Pilley making his way to New Zealand.
Pilley has a record of 55 wins in the United Kingdom as well as another five when on a riding scholarship in Victoria. That was when Flemington-based Moroney became aware of him and led to him offering an opportunity based with Ballymore Stables Matamata.
Pilley arrived in the country his partner Hayley Ashcroft late last month and had ridden several placegetters before breaking through in his 12th race ride.
“It’s great to get the win,” he told www.theinformant.co.nz after a polished performance on Bridal Veil. “I owe a lot to Mike and Pam, they’ve been very supportive since we arrived, and we’re really enjoying our time here.
“I’m also grateful to Jake Bayliss for his encouragement. I realise he would have been on this mare today but for being suspended, but he’s still happy for me win on her.”
Pilley is tall for a flat jockey and after working on his weight he was able to use his full two-kilogram claim to reduce Bridal Veil’s weight to 57kg.
“My weight’s a work in progress and has been coming down since I settled in at Matamata. This win has given me further inspiration to do my best and be able to take what rides become available.”