JustHorseRacing.com.au writer Michael McGill interviews jockey Blaike McDougall. View the interview below.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Ryde and spent the first few years of my life in Parramatta then my Nan brought me up in a place called Portland up in the Blue Mountains.
Your father Ron was a jockey. Was it always your intention to follow in his footsteps?
No I never sat on a horse until I was eighteen years old. Growing up I had no interest. I just rode motorbikes and played football.
When did you realise you wanted to become a jockey?
I found myself stuck in a rut. It was a small town and there were not many opportunities for me there. I got to the stage of my life where I was looking for an option out and I used to walk around at 48kg and I was super light. All my mates were monsters compared to me and my football career was coming to an end quickly. This job was sort of a ticket out of the place.
At what age did you start your apprenticeship and who were you indentured too?
I started my apprenticeship when I was late eighteen and that was with Con Karakatsanis. He then had a bit of trouble so then David Payne took my papers and helped me finish off my trials and I rode my first winner for him all in a year. I then had about twelve months off to have a bit of a reality check and wake up call. I missed it and I am fresh back now.
Tell us about your first race ride on Lemon Sweet?
It was at Hawkesbury and I drew wide and Christian Reith sat me four deep for the trip and it was horrible. I will never forget it.
How long was it before you rode your first winner?
I rode my first winner on my tenth ride for David Payne on a horse called Sumitro. He drew the one gate and had 50kg on his back and in the box seat and they all fanned off the fence and I stayed there and the horse was good enough on the day.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
To date I would not tie it down to anyone. I think I have had a lot of help from everyone inside and outside of racing. The last six months I owe full credit to my master John Thompson, our racing manager Robyn Hartley has been a big help. The most credit I probably owe is to my partner Danielle. She has been a great support of mine.
Is there any particular jockey you try to style your riding on?
I love Joao Moreira but I am a bit to big to copy his style. I love Jason Collett as he gets down and low and gets the most out of his horses. Tye Angland is a little bit to vigorous for me but he is a tall boy. I like to watch everyone and try to put my own style together.
You are with John Thompson. How do you find it being with a large stable? Is there added pressure?
No not at all. It is so laid back. He is very patient and never rushes. He takes his time and the way he runs his stable is organised and very professional. Since I have been in racing everyone has been under staffed and over worked. With my boss we are extra staffed and he doesn’t mind. We always have that one extra staff member and we never have trouble doing anything and we are never late doing anything. He is very professional.
You have struck up a great partnership recently with Cuban Lass. Three wins from five starts for Garry Lunn. How did that partnership come about?
Just from my claim in the country. When I got my license back this time around I just dedicated my first couple of months in targeting those country tracks. I put my foot in the door and I rode a couple of horses for him one day and he appreciated the way I rode for him. I struck upon this little filly and she just runs for me. I probably should have won four on her as I rode her a bit upside down at one start. She is honest and is only little but she tries her guts out.
Your career strike rate is at 14% while you are at 19% for this season. What do you put that down too?
Just having a clear level headed mindset. I look at things a lot differently now from that break. I look at things in a different way and I understand things differently. I am appreciating my racing and I love my horses and I am getting great opportunities.
You have become a real punters pal with a strike rate of 50% on your last 20 favourites. You must be pleased with your consistency?
Yes but in saying that like I said in the first few months I targeted he country tracks and started to understand races a bit more and the tempo and timing and getting horses into the right position. When I come to provincial tracks that are well known and riding the quality horses it all pays off. I feel a lot more confident stepping out onto a race track at all these different places instead of just the country ones. I think my horses can feel that.
What are your short term goals?
I want to win a Premiership. I think that is everyone’s dream. I think I am going to rack up a career highlight tomorrow having my first ride at Randwick. I have picked up five rides which is amazing and I am over whelmed and I can not wait to get out there and see what I can make of it.
What is the best thing about being a jockey?
I can not tie it down to one thing. It is everything. Meeting new people, riding these amazing animals and the feeling you get when winning a race. The opportunities that come with it; it is not all fame and money and this and that. There is a lot more behind it.
Do you have any issues with your weight? What is your fitness regime?
No. I am very busy when I am not riding race day. I am working afternoons and go for works with my girl. I eat well and exercise and drinking lots of water and eating the right food. It is all about portion sizes.