Victorian jockey Daniel Stackhouse has not taken long to make his mark in Mauritius, having already ridden four winners in three meetings, including a hat-trick of wins on Saturday.
Stackhouse began his Mauritius stint as the stable jockey for one of the leading yards on the Indian Ocean island, the Gujadhur family on May 19. There was to be no fairytale start in four rides on Day 1, but the next meeting (they ride every Saturday at the country’s only racecourse, the Champ de Mars) saw him opening his account with Perplexing in the Lucky Last.
As if spurred on by that ice-breaker, the New Zealand jockey went even better at the third time of asking, booting home a magnificent treble with Square The Circle, Sky High Flyer and Stock Broker, immediately gaining new fans from the notoriously fickle racing-mad Mauritians.
The 27-year-old jockey, who was at his first overseas stint outside New Zealand and Australia, said his confidence has grown by leaps and bounds after the big haul, even if he is still learning about his new workplace.
“It was nice to ride a treble yesterday. Going into the meeting, I was pretty confident I had a few good chances, especially after the Rousset stable (leading stable) scratched their runners (due to an ongoing inquiry on two positive cases),” said Stackhouse.
“The track is very tight, but the more I ride on it, the more I’m getting used to it. It rides better when they put the rails back in the true position.
“Mr Gujadhur also has quite a big string of horses – 43. I’ve ridden only 14 of them in races so far, so, I’m still learning about them at the same time.”
Stackhouse is aware that the iconic turquoise and red sash silks have been worn by many Australian jockeys before, like Noel Callow, Damien Oliver and Steven Arnold last year, but the confident rider seems to be walking to the beat of his own drum.
“The Gujadhur stable has a big fan base here and I know who rode for them with success before. They are big shoes to fill, but I feel quite confident about my own ability,” he said.
“It helps they have a good string of horses, especially the new buys. The four horses I won with were all bought this year, and that seems to be where the future lies.
“There is a Group 1 race (Barbe Cup) coming up on June 30, and my stable will have four horses entered. Hopefully, I pick the right horse!
“My goal is obviously to ride more winners, but I would also like to win a big race here. The stable has the quality of horses to win such races.”
While he is more than 8,400km away from home, Stackhouse has kept an eye on what was happening on the racing front in Australia a little, but said his job at hand was his priority now.
“I’ve been watching a few races when I have some time. I’ve settled in Mauritius quite well, and that’s where my job is now,” he said.
Stackhouse is currently the only Australasian jockey riding in Mauritius. Of the 15 trainers there, 10 have hired a retained jockey from six different countries.
Brisbane-based South African jockey Robbie Fradd rides for champion stable Rousset and has already seven winners on the board in only three meetings. Three other South Africans (usually more popular there given the country’s proximity), namely Juan Paul van der Merwe (the current leader on seven wins), Derreck David and Keanen Steyn also ply their trade there.
Other jockeys hail from England (Richard Oliver and Richard Mullen), France (Cedric Segeon), Greece (Ioannis Poullis), and India (Imran Chisty).