Internationally successful jockey Grant Cooksley is the latest addition to the New Zealand training ranks.
Cooksley has been granted a trainers’ licence and begins a training partnership at Byerley Park with Bruce Wallace, but he will retain his jockey’s licence.
‘’I’ve thought about training for a while now,’’ Cooksley said.
‘’I had a couple of options in Sydney, but it was too early at that stage. I just wanted to concentrate on riding at the time.
“Now this opportunity has come up to train in partnership with Bruce and it’s too good to turn down. If I started on my own I’d have to do it from scratch, but I’ve been given the opportunity to start with an established stable.
“Besides, I’ve had a long association with Bruce and his family. I used to ride a bit for Bruce’s father, Ray, and I first rode for Bruce when I was living in Sydney and he brought over Kingston Bay and Lord Revenir. We’ve had a good run together.’’
Cooksley and Wallace have combined over the years to win Group One races on both sides of the Tasman. That list includes the Auckland Cup (3200m) on Able Master, Sydney’s Metropolitan (2400m) on Lord Revenir, two JRA Auckland Classics (2000m) on Star Dancer, the Futurity Stakes (1400m) in Melbourne on Star Dancer and the Canterbury Guineas (1600m) on Kingston Bay.
It was also on a Wallace runner, Lion Rock Hill, that Cooksley notched his 1000th New Zealand win in November 2011 at Ellerslie.
Cooksley has had the experience of riding for numerous leading trainers and had more than 1600 winners overseas with success in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau and New Caledonia to go with his list of major triumphs in Australia, including 12 years when based in Sydney.
In recent years he has regularly ridden trackwork at Byerley Park for Wallace.
“I’ve been going out to Byerley Park to ride work for Bruce for the last three or four years and riding at the trials and races for him, too,’’ Cooksley said.
Cooksley (59) has 66 Group Ones to his credit, the most recent being the 2017 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings on the Shelley Hale-trained Close Up, who was also runner-up in the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1400m).
Though raceday rides have been scarce in recent years, Cooksley still enjoys riding and has no immediate plans to relinquish his jockey’s licence.
‘’I’ll obviously be concentrating on training, but I still plan to ride when I can,’’ he said.
Wallace is looking forward to joining forces with Cooksley.
‘’Grant has all the experience as a jockey and he’s passionate with what I want to do,’’ Wallace said. ‘’It’s a new challenge for him and I’m sure he’s up to it.’’
Cooksley replaces Allan Peard, who has been Wallace’s training partner for three seasons after several years as foreman after serving his jockey’s apprenticeship with the stable.
‘’It’s happened to coincide with me looking at the business model and trying to grow the business,’’ Wallace said.
‘’Grant put forward a proposal and I saw the opportunity to grow the business with him.
‘’Allan felt what he wanted to do wasn’t with Wallace Thoroughbreds so he’s looking at other options. Allan has been with me since he was 15 and I wish him well.” - NZ Racing Desk