Te Akau Team Member of the Month
26 Mar 2020
Te Akau Team Member of the Month for March is Scott Lucock, foreman at the colt barn
“Scott is a very important part of the business,” said trainer Jamie Richards. “He’s first here in the morning and often last to leave. He is very knowledgeable about every aspect of horse health, particularly feet, and nothing is ever a problem.
“He takes great pride in the barn of horses he looks after and his team. He has fantastic rapport with the staff and everyone enjoys his company and respects his way of doing things. He’s a champion bloke to have around and his experience is very helpful to me.”
Mette Mosebo runs the colt barn pretty well and my input has expanded across the three barns we’ve got operating at the racecourse (colt barn, middle barn, uni barn). So, I have stepped out of my role a fraction to oversee all three barns and give them as much help as they need. Basically, Nicole (Shalier) and Shay (Dickinson) who run the other two barns can use me as a sounding board with minor issues before we might require Jamie’s involvement. They are both very good and to be able to help them in certain areas is very rewarding.
All of our staff realizes the money that is put in by owners and that we have to do our jobs one-hundred percent plus. If we don’t do our jobs properly we won’t be winning all these races no matter how good the horses are. Their breeding or price paid for them is irrelevant unless things are done to a high standard. Most racing people are aware of that and overall, between staff, management, and owners, we’ve created a pretty good vibe, I reckon.
Working with the people is one of the things I like most about my job. We’ve got a lot of very good people coming through in both senior and junior, and ninety-nine percent of them enjoy their job. It’s a tough job as far as having a social life or anything like that is concerned because they’re at work at half past three in the morning and most are working big hours. So, you’ve got to like it and enjoy it and most are there for the right reasons. I admire the dedication of the team, in a nutshell, and they really love their horses which is a massive part of it.
I get quite a kick out of helping the younger team members. Whether they’ve got personal things to help them with our professional. Especially those from overseas, who might have family issues back home and things like that, I say to them that we can talk to management because they will do anything they can to help you. To be fair to David (Ellis) and Karyn (Fenton-Ellis MNZM), they go out of their way to make sure everyone is accommodated whatever their issues might be. They do a good job of looking after everybody.
Personally, I’ve found Te Akau Racing very good to work for. Jamie has known me for long enough now and gives me a free rein, and I’d like to think that he trusts me enough to use my own judgement in a lot of things and get the right reports back to him. And whatever needs doing, we usually make the right call whether it be injury-wise or assessing a horse’s fitness. That includes senior staff like Paul Richards, and Libby (Richards) is also very good value to Jamie and she takes a lot of pressure off him looking after staff movements, holidays, and with Lena (Jones) in the office. It’s a massive job. I like to think that the senior staff can take as much pressure off Jamie as possible because he’s got so much to oversee, and he handles it so well.
Our team spirit is as good as I’ve seen anywhere. We’re a proud team. Proud of what we’ve achieved with all these good horses, which helps drive us to go the extra mile, and, of course, when you’re winning a lot of big races, like we have been, it makes it easier to get up every morning.
For me, probably Te Akau Shark winning his Group One at Te Rapa (Feb. 8) has been a highlight. As everyone knows, a lot of work has gone into him, keeping him sound and getting him right, and we’ve all known all along how good he was but the general public hadn’t seen his true potential and that stamped it that day. And, then he went to Sydney and won another Group One (Chipping Norton) and that was the icing on the cake. Another highlight was the two-year-old (Cool Aza Beel) winning the Karaka Million (Restricted Listed, 1200m) and the Sistema Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m). It’s always big.
I don’t have any favourite horses, to be fair. Not personally, as you’ve got to treat them all pretty much the same. Probably Te Akau Shark, if I had to pick one, as I’ve been there right through with him and he’s come up and done what he’s done. And what great success we’re having in Australia. Te Akau has gone to another level there in the past twelve months. They’ve taken the right horses over and either won or been very competitive in some of their best races. It couldn’t be better.
I’ve been in the racing industry all my life. Dad was a trainer and I was always going to be a jockey. It’s just something that gets in your blood. I’ve been in and out of the industry over the years, trying different things, but you always come back to it and I’m one-hundred percent happy where I am now. You get looked after if you do the job right and they see you right, accordingly, so I couldn’t ask for anymore.
Not only are we working with the best horses and trainer, but we’re working with the best jockeys. Opie (Bosson) rides the work and the other riders are all top-class. Working with (Te Akau apprentice) Chelsea (Burdan) has been very rewarding. In our barn, where she’s stationed, she’s come from riding her first winner to being one of the leading apprentices and in the next twelve months we’ll see her go ahead even further, and no reason why she couldn’t end up being one of our better stable riders. So, it’s been great to see her progress.
As I say to the young ones: there’s opportunity there if you want it. If you want to put the effort in, Te Akau will give you the opportunity to better yourself and you can go as far as you like. A lot just need to build confidence, especially if they haven’t been around long, and in this game you never stop learning. And you’ve got to be prepared to learn. We have a staff member, Dan, who has mucked out boxes for years, and from another perspective, he’s taught me things I’d never have thought of. He comes up with some bloody good ideas and policies that we adopt, and they work. We are all looking at ways to do better by the horses.
The involvement from the vets is massive. Another eye and while ninety-nine percent of the time Jamie will be correct in his opinion, but to have our vet there to bounce ideas off, and with their experience, is huge.
Jamie is one of the best young trainers I’ve ever come across. Watching the way he works and the decisions he makes with the horses. He has to make some hard decisions in the best interests of the horses, to get the best out of them, and gets it right every time. Things like when to turn a horse out, or give it one more, and his placement of horses is exceptional. And funnily enough, he’s probably our best track work rider. He doesn’t have a chance to do much of it, but he can give very good feedback when he does jump on one. He knows what he’s talking about on a horse and not a lot of trainers can do that. It’s another string to his bow.
For his age, and relative youth, he’s got an old head on his shoulders. He’s very, very good, and you don’t mind working for someone like that. He’s leap years ahead of some of the older guys when it comes to combining technology with training horses, but it’s very necessary in this day and age. Our owners, whether they have only a few hairs of the tail, are kept right up to date the same as someone that owns the horse outright. It is the experience of owning a horse with Te Akau and every aspect is relevant. They know that their horse/s will get the best possible treatment that can be afforded to a racehorse. No matter how big we are, no stone is left unturned and we’ve got the right people to put it all in place and make sure it happens.
Matamata has any number of good eating places and it’s a town with a great racing history.
David (Ellis) and Karyn (Fenton-Ellis) introduced the monthly award as a way of saying thanks to all the team, from themselves and also on behalf of the owners, in appreciation of horses being given the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
“I keep saying that because these people love horses they’re prepared to get up at 3.30 a.m. in winter and summer, rain, hail, and shine,” Ellis said.
“We create opportunities for young people to get involved in a thoroughbred business that we try to run as professionally as we can, and also employ people that have spent their careers working in the industry and bring enormous amounts of experience.”
The Team Member of the Month receives a cash prize and overall winner an all expenses paid trip for two to the Gold Coast.