Nick Heywood had hardly ridden a horse when he surprised his dad, Wagga Wagga trainer Chris Heywood, with the news he wanted to be a jockey.
“I have been around horses all my life and all of a sudden he has popped out and said ‘I want to be a jock’,” Chris Heywood told AAP.
“I was pretty stoked. Having a son as a jockey isn’t a bad thing.”
It didn’t take long for the talented young rider to make waves and he was quickly snapped up as an apprentice by another father and son duo, Peter and Paul Snowden at Randwick.
Heywood said it was ideal timing when the Snowdens came knocking on the door.
“It just worked out perfectly,” he said.
“It has been super for him and he has certainly gained some bounce since he has been there.”
Since moving to Sydney, the 20-year-old has ridden for some of the city’s biggest stables including the might of Godolphin.
But Heywood will return to his roots on Saturday when he rides Lighthouse, trained by his father, in the Highway Handicap at Randwick.
“I get such a thrill at having Nick on my horse,” Heywood said.
“It will be even better if he wins.”
Heywood has about 30 horses in work and bought Lighthouse at Moruya from friend Debbie-Lee Saxton who retired from training because her husband, former jockey Roly’, had health issues.
Heywood said Lighthouse’s second at Wagga Wagga on October 10 had put the lightly raced seven-year-old in good stead for Saturday’s 1000 metre race.
“He is an honest horse and I think he has a great chance of winning as long as everything goes well. He is a very good each-way bet,” he said.