New Zealand: apprentice Kozzi Asano fired up for jockeys’ title chase

Horse Racing Kozzi Asano jockey
Kozzi Asano: six wins behind in title race. Photo: Grant Matthew/Race Images

By NZ Racing Desk 

New Zealand: Leading apprentice jockey Kozzi Asano has experienced a break-out season in New Zealand and he can’t wait for it to resume in July.

The Canterbury hoop is just six wins shy of premiership leader Lisa Allpress and he is looking forward to chasing her down.

“We will see how the first race meeting goes after COVID-19,” says Asano. “I am definitely looking forward to trying to close the gap.”

Asano led the premiership for the majority of the season and he admitted to being a bit jaded prior to the COVID-19 enforced lockdown. 

“I was quite tired before the lockdown,” he says. “Mentally and physically I was tired from all the travelling and riding.”

Asano says he feels rested after the lockdown, but admits he lost plenty of fitness over the six-week period. 

“I stayed home all the time, watching racing and working on my car, and doing housework during the lockdown. It was quite relaxing,” he says. “I missed riding. While in lockdown I lost a lot of muscle and fitness, so I am working hard to get that back. 

“When I started riding trackwork again my body was very sore, but now I am getting better and better.”

With still over a month to go before racing resumes, Asano says he is using the time wisely to build his fitness and study form.

“It is a good time to study form and get my fitness back. I am really happy with where I am at now.”

With 75 wins to his name this term, including two stakes victories, Asano says he couldn’t have dreamed this season would have gone so well.

“I never expected this. I am really thankful for all the owners and trainers who put me on their horses,” he says.“The highlight of the season has been the Wanganui Cup [Listed, 2040m] on Sentimental Miss. It was very helpful that Lisa [Latta, trainer] put me on. 

“It’s no doubt that without her helping with my northern rides, I couldn’t be in the position I am. So that is much appreciated.”

Asano is also full of praise for his employer, Riccarton trainer Andrew Carston.

“Not only does he look after me with riding, but also during work and my lifestyle, which is very rare to get. I just can’t thank him enough,” says Asano.

Asano is already looking forward to next season and has been busy preparing for the challenge, both physically and mentally.

“Next season will be harder and tougher, so I am preparing my mindset and hopefully I can hang onto it,” he says. “I would like to travel and ride as much as I can. Hopefully I can be successful for the owners and trainers.”

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