Nash Rawiller buoyant about debut of son Campbell as father chases Group 1 with Dreamforce
Sarah Rawiller decided she needs to be at Jerilderie even though she had to study a map to find the small NSW country town, which is just 45km north of the Victorian border.
“I’ve never been to Jerilderie
but I will be there for Campbell,’’ she said.
“When we were in Hong Kong, Campbell said he wanted to be a jockey and I said ‘OK, but you need to be a horseman first’.
“We then went out and bought him a pony so he could learn how to ride. As a mother, I’ve always told my children to follow their dreams and that’s what Campbell has done.
“He’s worked very hard to get to this point and I’m glad in a way that he is riding at a non-TAB meeting so he can learn about riding in races.
“It’s so exciting for our family.’’
Sarah said she would still be watching and cheering her husband’s rides at Randwick — via mobile phone if she has to — where he has been booked for seven rides including Dreamforce in the George Main Stakes and The TAB Everest hopeful Classique Legend in the Group 2 $500,000 The Shorts (1100m).
In a sense, Nash is also starting out his career — again.
Rawiller only returned to the saddle in July after serving a 15-month disqualification he incurred when riding in Hong Kong.
After seven weeks of the 2019-20 season, Rawiller has vaulted to the top of the Sydney jockeys’ premiership with 15 wins.
Rawiller is riding like he has never been away.
His brilliant start to the season might surprise the jockey but not his manager, Liam Prior.
“I have been good friends with Nash for a long time and I remember talking to him at Christmas time last year and I knew then he had the eye of the tiger,’’ Prior said.
“It was obvious the desire to do well was burning inside him.
“He had started back then putting in the physical work so
he was ready to rock ’n’ roll for
“Nash has certainly hit the ground running. I suppose he had been in Hong Kong for a few years so I guess we forget how dominant he was before he left.’’
Rawiller was a three-time premier Sydney jockey and the nation’s leading Group 1 rider when he left to ride in Hong Kong five years ago.
But the 44-year-old realised it was not going to be easy for him to break back into Sydney racing given he had been away for so long and couldn’t ride during his disqualification period.
So, Rawiller worked harder than ever in the gym and pounded the pavement for five months to prepare for his return.
“I really knuckled down over that period and, to be honest, it wasn’t a chore at all doing all the fitness work,’’ he said.
“I just wanted to make sure I had that fitness there so it was easier when I did return.
“But I remember that first week back riding I was as sore as I have ever been in my life.’’
Rawiller rode through the pain.
On some days, he rode trackwork then followed it with 18 barrier trial rides.
His body became used to the particular rigours of riding as
the weight started to peel off his lithe frame.
“I did get to about 64kg when I was out, that was the heaviest I got, which wasn’t too bad,’’ he said.
“I’m down to about 55-56kg now, I’ve got my weight where it is manageable and comfortable.’’
Rawiller had intended to resume his riding career in Melbourne but there was an administrative delay of a week issuing his licence to ride trackwork.
After spending so long out of the saddle, Rawiller didn’t want to waste even a week so he came to Sydney to start trackwork riding again.
What was initially just going to be a week’s working holiday has become a permanent move back to Sydney.
“When you get to my age you realise your next move is very important because you can’t ride forever,’’ he said.
“The week I rode trackwork here I had quite a lot of people approach me to stay.
“I soon realised the potential was there to reform the associations I had before I went to Hong Kong so I just felt I should stay.
“The Sydney racing scene is really on the up with the new races, huge prizemoney, too.’’
Rawiller was aware the Sydney riding ranks have never been stronger but that only made him more determined to prove himself.
“When I was down in Melbourne everyone was telling me the same thing,’’ he said. “But I have never been scared of a challenge.
“If anything I enjoy it and it definitely makes me take things to the next level.’’
James McDonald won the Sydney jockeys’ premiership last season in his comeback after a lengthy disqualification for betting on his own mount.
Rawiller has set himself a similar title-winning goal.
“I would like to give myself
an opportunity to win the premiership,’’ he said.
“That is my main focus at the moment, I’ve had a good start and I am keen to build on that.
“It won’t be easy, I realise that, but it is something I would certainly like to try to do.
“Liam is really focused on what he is doing and has been a terrific help, plus I’m getting support from a wide variety of trainers.
“It is working well.’’
With the interview winding up, the subject returned to Rawiller’s son again.
“Any advice for Campbell?’’
Rawiller’s reply was typical of the man.
“Just to work hard — I’m very proud this is what he wants to do,’’ he said.