A decade ago South African jockey Keagan Latham won a Group One race in Abu Dhabi, the HH Presidents Cup on Dynamite.
These days he is more likely to feature in race books for Kembla Grange, Muswellbrook or Nowra, and the well-travelled 30-year-old couldn’t be happier.
After stints in Ireland and England, Latham relocated to Sydney late 2016 and it is where he intends to stay.
“I’ve fallen in love with the place. I love the professionalism of the racing and I’m really keen to make a life out here,” Latham said.
His first Saturday metropolitan ride is another reason for celebration.
Latham partners two-year-old Silent Explorer, a last-start maiden winner trained by ex-pat South African David Payne, in the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill.
Silent Explorer was the TAB’s $8 outsider on Friday in a field reduced to five after the scratching of Irish Bet.
“It’s very nice of David to keep me on him after we nearly lost a protest (at Warwick Farm),” Latham said.
Silent Explorer survived the inquiry but Latham copped a five meeting ban for careless riding, which did not deter Payne from booking him again.
“David probably wouldn’t have heard of me before I got here and he’s definitely helped me out,” Latham said.
“Because he was obviously a good jockey himself he can give me a few pointers whereas other trainers might not have experienced actual racing.”
Latham had one ride at Warwick Farm and two at Gosford on Thursday and a solitary booking at Goulburn on Friday, leading into the highlight of his season.
“It’s something I’ve worked towards. I look at it this way: ‘You’ll become a better rider riding around better riders,” he said.
Although opportunities in Sydney are rare, Latham is far from frustrated after enduring a demoralising two-year stint in England.
“I don’t want to say I was depressed there but I got to a point in my life where I didn’t think there was much of a future left,” he said.
“I just couldn’t get going in England because I wasn’t a well-known name or an apprentice with a claim to offer.”
Latham rode 17 winners last season and is tracking to double that tally with 31 so far in 2017/18.
“Since coming here I’ve found a lot of people are giving me hope again,” he said.