When he was 15 Cory Parish weighed 33kg and was teased so much he came to hate school.
Later on he got into rodeos and turned out to be pretty good at staying on a horse’s back
Then he discovered speed and decided he liked it.
Not surprisingly, it soon dawned on Parish that he should become a jockey.
“It seems obvious, but no-one in my family was involved in racing so I didn’t think about it at first,” Parish said.
“But I loved it from the beginning, it suited me.”
Parish’s life in racing began with one of New Zealand’s finest trainers, Alan Jones.
When Jones moved to Australia it continued with a variety of trainers and included a stint over jumps during which he rode 15 winners.
But the economics of New Zealand racing inevitably led to a move to Melbourne.
“The prizemoney dropped quite severely in New Zealand racing a few years ago and there were a lot fewer meetings,” he said.
As a result, there were also an oversupply of jockeys and Parish, 23, took the realistic view that he was in the surplus category.
So he did what so many before him had done and decided to try his luck in Australia and armed with some advice from Brett McDonald, the father of gun jockey James McDonald, he sought out the expatriate Kiwi Sheila Laxon.
“I’d thought about going to the bush but Brett McDonald said I should go to Sydney or Melbourne and if that didn’t work out I could go to the country later on,” he said.
“Sheila and her partner John Symons have given me a great chance, riding work and helping me get rides.”
Parish, who says he has the unusual problem for a jockey of not being able to put on weight, has ridden seven winners since arriving in Victoria last October and at Sandown on Wednesday has a couple of chances to improve on that figure.
His best prospect appears to be East Verses West in the KS Environmental Handicap (3000m) for another expatriate New Zealander, Bryce Stanaway.
Stanaway has made good use of Parish who has won two races on his promising mare Warwarick.
“He can ride and and he can do what he’s told – and that can be hard to find in a lot of these jockeys,” Stanaway said.
Parish also rides La Pepper for Alan Browell in the Sportingbet Handicap (1600m).