Kozzi Assano is showing himself to be a jockey to watch. The Japanese apprentice has been clocking up a fair few frequent flyer points of late travelling around New Zealand - the country he now calls home - and he was once again rewarded for his efforts at New Plymouth racetrack on Thursday, when he bagged five wins on the six-race card.
It was the second time in a month he had recorded five wins at a meeting at New Plymouth, which has become a favourite of his.
“It was a special moment. All the good trainers and owners have been a big support, so I really appreciate that,” he said. “I have ridden there about three of four times now, so it was quite nice to achieve that again.”
Asano now sits on 65 wins for the season, 11 clear of his closest rival, Samantha Collett, on the New Zealand Jockeys’ Premiership, and he is intent on travelling and riding as much as possible to keep his lead.
“We will see how it is going to go at the end of the season, but so far I couldn’t be happier with my position,” he said. “As long as I can get some rides I am keen to ride anywhere in New Zealand.”
Asano, who left his homeland six years ago and ended up in New Zealand after two and a half years in Australia, is particularly thankful to his employer, Andrew Carston. “He has been supporting me, he takes all my rides at the moment and he gives me advice, so I am really thankful to him,” Asano said.
Asano will be looking to add to his winning tally at Gore tomorrow (Saturday) after he was approached to ride at Trentham’s premier meeting.
“I got more rides at Gore and then after the nominations came out trainers started to ask me to ride at Wellington, but I decided to ride at Gore and stick to the trainers who put me on a lot.”
Asano will have eight rides at Gore, including Kilowatt in the MLT/DB Breweries Gore Cup (2000m), and Lightning Jack in the listed Liquorland Gore Guineas (1335m).
“Kilowatt has got a nice draw (4) but I think he is better with a bit of cover, so I don’t want to rush him. We will see how the race is going on the day,” he said. “Lightning Jack is a genuine horse with really good strength. The trainers [Kelvin and Aimee Tyler] have told me he has been working well, so I am looking forward to it.”