With just one win required to match his best tally for a season and just five wins behind National Jockey’s Premiership leader Lisa Allpress, you could be forgiven for thinking Johnathan Parkes was plotting a huge month in July.
On the contrary, the popular Central Districts horseman is happy to just go with the flow and take a what will be will be attitude into the final weeks of the 2018/19 racing season.
A winning treble at Hastings on the weekend saw Parkes notch his 117th victory for the season (he rode 118 winners in 2013/14), with a strike rate of 4.97, second only to Opie Bosson (4.48) in the top fourty riders on the premiership ladder.
Despite that success Parkes admits he isn’t one to chase records or the like.
“I’m really happy with how my season has gone but I’m not chasing the premiership or anything like that,” he said.
“I’m not a natural lightweight so over the last couple of winters I’ve actually ridden a little heavier in the winter so I can look after myself.
“I generally ride at around 54.5kg in the summer but in the winter now I’m walking around 56kgs. It is really tough to be wasting and the like in the winter so it’s better for me to ride at a weight I’m comfortable with.
“I’ll be back to the lower weight once the spring rolls around but the extra weight limits what I can ride at this time of the year so things like chasing premierships etc. are not realistic, so I just don’t worry about it.”
Given he is riding so well it seems odds on that he will break his personal best tally of wins for a season, a feat that Parkes will be pleased to achieve.
“I’ve had a really good season and I’ve managed to get on some very nice horses,” he said.
“I’ve had terrific support from trainers wherever I’ve ridden, including when I’ve gone either North or South to ride at the bigger carnivals and the like.
“I’m very thankful for that support as without it you just don’t get the opportunities you need to be successful.”
While other jockeys and trainers may be planning a mid-winter break in warmer climates, Parkes will be staying closer to home to see in the new season.
“I know some jockeys head over to places like Fiji and the like towards the end of July but I’m happy staying here and riding right through,” he said.
“There are good meetings coming up like the winter carnival in Christchurch so if I can get some good rides I’ll definitely be going there as I love riding at Riccarton.
“Hopefully a horse like Comeback, who I’ve won a couple on, will go for the Winter Cup, (Gr.3, 1600m) as he is one I would definitely go down to ride.
“In the meantime, I just want to be getting ready for another big season and hopefully getting on horses that can be competitive at the highest level which is what every jockey wants.” – NZ Racing Desk