Sam's Up For The Challenge At Te Akau 

Date: 25 Jul 2021

Sam's Up For The Challenge At Te Akau 

Keen young horseman Sam Bergerson is well on the way to realising his ambitions, with his latest big step being appointed assistant to champion trainer Jamie Richards. 

Eighteen months after joining Te Akau Racing, 27-year-old Sam has risen through the ranks to a foreman's position and now further cement his role as official right-hand man to the 31-year-old who is set to sign off another premiership win with a record tally. 

“My goal is to take Te Akau to the next level and to do that you need the right staff,” commented Te Akau principal David Ellis in announcing the appointment. 

“Sam Bergerson fits that model perfectly. He's made a success of everything he's done in his life to date, from graduating with a degree, gaining a scholarship to gain overseas experience and now fitting in at Te Akau as a very popular and hard-working member of our staff.

“He really impresses me with his approach to work, his horsemanship and his attention to detail, which is essential when the goal is to achieve the results we aspire to.”

In common with Jamie Richards, Sam grew up in racing as the son of a successful trainer, in his case Awapuni-based Roydon Bergerson, who in turn was the son of successful Hawera trainer Herb Bergerson.

“I was around horses from a young age; I remember my grandfather teaching me how to put a head-collar on when I was just a little fella,” Sam told Scene. “Not that I planned to become that involved when I left Palmerston North Boys' High; my first goal was to qualify as an accountant, then once I had done that I got the urge to travel, to broaden my horizons.”

As a more than capable rugby player, in his early twenties Sam landed a role playing in the deep south of Ireland and through contacts he then gained a job with champion trainer Aidan O'Brien. 

“That was a fantastic experience working with one of the world's most successful trainers and a stable full of high quality horses,” he recalls. “I was in the two-year-old colt barn and I travelled with the horses, which included a number of trips across to England. 

“My time there was what convinced me that I wanted to be involved full-time in the racing industry.”

On his return to New Zealand, Sam successfully applied for the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Sunline Scholarship, which meant a return to the Northern Hemisphere in 2019 for stints at Coolmore Ireland, Shadwell Stud in the United Kingdom and WinStar Farm in Kentucky, USA. 

It was soon after his return home that he was approached by Jamie Richards with the offer of an assistant foreman's role and the past 18 months have sealed his place at Te Akau.

“Jamie's a freak, the way he manages such a massive workload and the results he gets, so I couldn't wish for a better role model,” added Sam. “The whole Te Akau operation is so professional, from David and Karyn down and the team they've built around them. 

“I'm able to work with a lot of like-minded young people and there's a good group of older, more experienced people here as well, which makes for a very good mix.”

Sam's busy working week has still allowed him to play as fullback for the United Matamata Sports senior team, which has enabled to not indulge his passion for rugby as well as integrating with a wide cross-section of the Matamata community.

“I've been lucky to get a leave pass to play rugby on the weekend over the past two winters and that's been great. Mind you, we couldn't quite pull off a win in the final on Saturday in front of our home crowd.

“The weather was shocking and it was a terrible day to be fullback, but even though we didn't win, the team has still qualified for next season's Premiership competition. 

“Whether I'll be part of that I'm not sure, as my new role at Te Akau means I'll be even more involved and I know we've got big plans for the new racing season.

“I'm so grateful for the opportunity I've been given and the level of trust placed in me. It's a bit daunting to be given so much responsibility, but I'm definitely up for the challenge.”   


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