Annual visits to Ireland ignited jockey Jamie Mott’s ambition to add jumps racing to his repertoire.
But more recently it was a call from Melbourne trainer Robert Smerdon that refuelled his commitment to make a success of it.
“My wife’s family train jumps horses in Ireland, so we go ever every year,” Mott said.
“Since I’ve been going over the past five years I’ve schooled horses for her father (John Brassil) and we go on a cross-country course. I really got a good feel for it and started enjoying it, so I thought `why not give it a go’.”
Mott got his jumps licence in 2014 and made his debut in Victoria that winter.
It wasn’t until this month’s Warrnambool carnival that Mott landed his first jumps win on Livery, describing it as one of the best feelings he’s had in racing.
Two more jumps wins for Smerdon have followed and Mott has rides for the stable in the two feature races on Saturday aboard defending champion Arch Fire in the Australian Hurdle at Sandown and Hucknall in the Australian Steeplechase.
“The first season I sort of didn’t have much support,” Mott said.
“I only really had one jumper that I was riding for Russell Cameron but he didn’t end up being any good.
“I think I had four rides all up.”
With his flat career going well, Mott came to a crossroads and wasn’t sure whether to keep pursuing both codes.
“Then Robert gave me a call and said if I was still interested he would be happy to support me,” Mott said.
“I said `perfect. If I’m going to get support off you I’d love to get fully involved in it’.”
Mott says he is now getting a good feel for jumps races now and his confidence is growing.
“And the more practice I have, the better I’m going to get,” he said.
“Things are going great at the moment and it would be good to cap it off with a feature on Saturday.”
Arch Fire is at $3.50 while Hucknall is at $7.
Arch Fire has been beaten by Gingerboy in their two jumps clashes this year, including by four lengths in the Galleywood Hurdle, but meets the favourite better at the weights.
Mott was thrilled with his trial last week when he beat Gingerboy by 2-1/2 lenghts over 2400 metres.
“He’s going terrific. We’ve just got to hope we can turn the tables on Gingerboy,” he said.