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Thirty five year old Damon Budler

At Canberra on Friday, a name in the jock’s ranks no-one has ever heard of can land a winner.

And maybe two!

He is, like Glyn Schofield, Robbie Fradd, Jeff Lloyd and Tony McEvoy’s latest riding star Barend Vorster, a South African who is now in Australia looking for a new life.

This bloke’s name is Damon Budler and he has three rides: Race 2 on JAR OF HEARTS for his Master, Rob Potter, then in Race 5 he’s on SHARE THE BLAME for Mick Miladinovic and finally he’s on QUANTUM TIME in the $50,000 Federal hcp for Gratz Vella which is Race 7.

All three have a chance, with Jar Of Hopes and Quantum Time both rated very highly.

Unlike all the above fellow Springboks, Budler is a 4kg claimer who hadn’t ridden in a race until he went through the Aussie process that all apprentices go through.

Only he’s 35 years old.

“But he doesn’t lack experience,” claimed Potter. “He’s been my apprentice through the process for the past 12 months and he’s been in Australia riding work for many stables for 5 or so years now.”

Budler did taste race day nerves at Wellington on Thursday in what was his debut race ride. And to be fair, it was a 3 out of 10 performance and should be considered an inauspicious start.

His mount, a noted front-runner in Sky Mission, missed the kick and came out 2 lengths behind the pack. He was on the fence and recovering well with Budler showing poise and patience, until what appeared a rush of inexperienced blood took charge and he moved off his beautiful rails spot to circle the field….on the point of the home turn.

His mount didn’t negotiate the bend well at all and ran out about 7-deep – in hindsight, if he stays on the fence he winds up an encouraging 4th or so. As it turned out he finished near last.

But all that belied Budler’s barrier trial mounts where the horses ran for him and he looked quite polished.

“He was a gymnast in his youth and then rode and rode and rode horses in South Africa and has ever since.

“I think he even had a few amateur race rides. Anyway, I believe he goes OK and could easily get a winner at Canberra.”

He has been riding Jar Of Hearts in her work and in her jump outs and she seems to be going well for him. With his 4kg claim this legitimate BM62 horse, has less weight to carry than a few BM52 horses in this BM55 race.

She looks very well placed, and all Budler has to do is jump out well from this great gate 4 and just sit and steer. The mare should do the rest.

Later in the day, his Federal mount has a big show too being a recent winner and a strong 2nd this grade last start. He carries a light weight in the Federal because of the 4kg claim.

These Canberra mounts are his 2nd, 3rd and 4th rides and if landed a double, that would be a rather impressive start to his Aussie riding career.

His maiden mount, Share The Blame, did run 3rd in a recent trial with Budler in the irons so isn’t hapless either.

“I think he rides well and I had no hesitation putting him on my mare today because she is going really well and she seems to like him,” said Potter.

Time will tell.

But we welcome a new name to the bush race riding ranks: Damon Budler.

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