Ryan takes next step

Former champion apprentice jockey Nick Ryan has joined the Border training ranks. Picture: KYLIE ESLER
Former champion apprentice jockey Nick Ryan has joined the Border training ranks. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

NICK Ryan says it’s a dream come true to secure his thoroughbred trainers licence.

Ryan recently saddled his first runner when Motion Of Power raced at Wagga late last month.

But there was no fairytale start to the new phase of his racing career after Motion Of Power choked down in the run to finish at the tail of the field.

“It wasn’t a dream start but to be out on my own, it’s exciting for sure,” Ryan said.

“I’ve been contemplating it for a good 12 months and realise I’ve got to learn to crawl before I can walk, but I’m very motivated to succeed.”

Ryan is a former hoop who as an 18-year-old was Victoria’s champion jockey.

He burst onto the scene as a third-year apprentice to claim the Melbourne jockey’s premiership in 2004-05.

That season he rode a then record 165 winners to join Darren Gauci and Damien Oliver as the only apprentice jockeys to win the Melbourne senior title in more than 50 years.

But by 19, Ryan quit riding due to his spiralling weight and the career of one of the most gifted young riders Victoria has produced since the turn of the century was over.

He flirted with a couple of comebacks, but officially retired in April 2009 after riding more than 500 winners.

Ryan, however, was not lost to racing.

He has spent the past 18 months as stable foreman for Albury’s Brett Cavanough.

Before that he also had a 12-month stint in Singapore also as stable foreman for Cliff Brown and John O’Hara.

“I feel like I served my apprenticeship after spending the past 18 months with Brett and thought it was time to have a crack at training myself,” Ryan said.

“I spent seven years as a jockey and I also worked in Singapore for 12 months as a foreman for two different trainers.

“I’m only 27 and feel that I have been around a bit and have got a lot more experience than blokes of similar age.”

Ryan rates winning the Melbourne jockey premiership alongside running third on the Tony Vasil-trained Zazzman in the 2004 Melbourne Cup as his biggest highlights in the saddle.

Zazzman ran third behind Maykbe Diva as a $101-shot as the mighty mare claimed her second of three Melbourne Cups.

Ryan’s father, Brendan, who now lives in Corowa, was a jockey for 28 years, starting as an apprentice in Melbourne and finishing his career in the Border district.

Among others, Ryan rode Campaign King and Better Loosen Up early in their careers for trainer Les Theodore.

Ryan partnered Campaign King in two of his early career victories at Bendigo and Wangaratta and also helped to break in Better Loosen Up.

His father drives over to Albury most days to lend his son a hand in his latest racing venture.

Ryan is initially training a small team of five horses from stables on Racecourse Road owned by Graham Hulm.

“I’ve got a small team of four horses with another horse arriving this week,” he said.

“There is still a fair bit of work involved in five horses and Graham, his daughter, Donna and dad are giving me a hand.

“That’s enough to train when starting out.”

Ryan said his next runner would most likely be at Alb-ury’s opening meeting of the new season next Thursday.