Albury-based jockey, Blaike McDougall, is using his disappointment from the end to his 2019/20 season as motivation to take out the NSW jockey’s premiership in 2020/21.
The 26-year-old all but had the jockey’s premiership wrapped up last season before a six-week suspension cruelled his chances, leaving him to watch on as Andrew Gibbons (124 wins) knocked him off by a mere 1 ½ wins with only two days remaining in the premiership race.
“To be honest, I am probably more determined this season. I was disappointed with how my season ended last year, losing the premiership and sitting out the last six weeks of the season was really hard to swallow,” McDougall said.
“I feel like I’m a bit more determined and a bit more mature now.”
McDougall said handling failures as well as he handled winners was a big reason why he had improved and now he could let go of bad days at the office, whereas before, he had the tendency to overthink and over-analyse bad rides.
“Before, if I had a bad day at the races, I wouldn’t let it go, but now I am not carrying it for days on end and my attitude is better,” McDougall said.
The leading jockey in NSW has already ridden 88 winners this season, including a hat trick at Wagga today, and he sits 13 wins ahead of Tommy Berry in second, and 23 wins ahead of James McDonald in third.
Additionally, 86 of his wins have come in the country, placing him well ahead of the second place Aaron Bullock on 47 wins.
McDougall has his sights set on winning the title too, and recording some good numbers in the process.
“I think without being bullish, 150 winners is my goal,” McDougall said.
“I should’ve ridden that last season, but I’m after 150 this season and everything after that is a bonus.”
Right now, it’s ‘business as usual’ for McDougall, who is crafting away win after win, primarily in the Southern Districts.
“We have that long of a season left and if I keep poking along, who knows what will happen,” McDougall said.
“I am looking at it very open minded, I’m just focusing on getting the job done and keeping it as business as usual.
In a scary thought to opposition jockeys, McDougall said it didn’t feel like he had ridden so many winners to start the season either, praising his manager for booking good rides and giving him the opportunity to be sitting atop the premiership standings.
“I know I have ridden 80 winners, but it doesn’t feel like I have ridden 80 winners,” McDougall said.
“I’ve had some luck and my manager is doing a good job in getting me the best rides.”
Wagga trainer, Wayne Carroll, isn’t averse to using Blaike McDougall and he explained why he went out of his way to seek his services, with the pair most recently combining when winning the Adelong Cup with Fashion Tip on New Year’s Day.
“What Blaike does, he really reads the race and just analyses where he should be and where he should place his horses and that for me gives him a distinct advantage over other jockeys,” Carroll said.
“I would categorise him, Chris Heywood and Johnny Kissick as the best riders in the area and the three of them are very good judges of their horses.”
McDougall will have a chance to expand on his NSW-wide lead at Nowra on Sunday when he takes another six rides.