An impressive debut jumps win for Woodsman at Te Rapa on Saturday marked the first leg of a special double for rider Michael Roustoby and his twin brother, Adam.
A winner of eight races on the flat, Woodsman lived up to the expectations of his connections when giving a dominant display for Michael Roustoby to win the Garrards Horse & Hounds Hurdles (2800m) by almost six lengths.
A day later, while Roustoby was still buzzing over the win, it was the turn of twin brother Adam to celebrate an overdue victory as a jumps jockey when guiding the New Zealand jumper Speedy Jax to a steeplechase win over 3800m at Casterton in Victoria.
‘’That was Adam’s first jumping win,’’ Michael Roustoby said. “We’re pretty close and talk just about every day. I know it will mean so much to him.’’
The 33-year-old Roustoby twins hail from Sydney and have no racing background, but have both found their way into racing. Michael originally came to New Zealand in 2007 for three months and decided to stay, while his brother rode around the picnic meetings in Australia and kicked home one winner four seasons ago.
“Adam found it hard to get started over there (as a jumps jockey) so he came over here for a while,’’ Roustoby said. ‘’He also got to go over to Ireland on the (Racing Victoria) Jumps Jockey Scholarship and worked for Willie Mullins.
‘’He’s now riding work at Flemington in the mornings for Gai Waterhouse then going out and riding work for Patrick Payne three days a week.’’
It is Payne who provided Adam Roustoby with his first jumps win on Speedy Jax, having taken over the training of the Spartacus eight-year-old after he finished third at Ashburton for Riccarton trainers Kevin and Pam Hughes.
Speedy Jax, owned and bred by Don and Dame Wendy Pye, had won seven flat races and one apiece over hurdles and steeplechase fences before heading to Victoria. He was having his third start and first over fences for Payne when scoring a game win on Sunday.
While thrilled for his brother, Roustoby is even more excited over the prospects of his own winner, Woodsman.
Last year successful jumps jockey Matt Gillies recommended to his uncle, Woodman’s trainer and part-owner Tony Gillies, that he contact Roustoby to school the budding jumper and since then it had been an eager wait for Roustoby for the jumps debut.
‘’He impressed me the first time I schooled him,’’ Roustoby said.
‘’He was to have a hurdle start at the end of last winter, but he got a pricked hoof and missed it. I’ve been like a little child waiting to open my Christmas present ever since then.
‘’He jumps super and with his flat speed I thought he’d clear maidens (over fences) quickly and go on to something better.’’
A dual black type placegetter on the flat, Woodsman gave a further hint of his jumping talent when winning at a maiden hurdle trial at Cambridge last month with Roustoby aboard and on Saturday he gave a polished display.
‘’He was way too good for the others,’’ Roustoby said. ‘’Compared to the other jumpers I’ve ridden, it was like going from a family sedan car to a formula one racing car. He’s pretty clever and jumps so well.’’
Roustoby has battled to get recognition as a rider since he started out as an amateur rider. He won three races in that role and as a jumps jockey he has also picked up three wins (from 51 rides).
Roustoby also holds a trainer’s licence, preparing a few horses in association with his partner, Jennifer McIlroy, and the pair ride trackwork for top trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.
‘’We also ride work for other trainers at Cambridge, but I need a headline horse to get me going as a jockey,’’ Roustoby said. ‘’Woodsman could be the one.’’
Gillies has yet to decide on the next step for Woodsman, whom he races in partnership with his wife, Pam, and long-time stable client Ron Thompson, of Puriri (near Thames).
‘’He might have a flat run next,’’ Pam Gillies said. ‘’Tony’s idea is to give him two or three hurdle starts to teach him properly this year and next year maybe take him to Australia as a steeplechaser.’’ - NZ Racing Desk