Te Akau Team Member of the Quarter

Date: 22 Jan 2024

Te Akau Racing is delighted to announce our latest Team Member of the Quarter - based at our Matamata stable - Cooper Stumbles!

Budding apprentice jockey Cooper Stumbles (17) has come a long way in his first year of employment with Te Akau Racing in Matamata.

“He’s a valuable young member of the team, he's conscientious - always at work early and asking at the end of the day if anything else can be done, he's got a great attitude to life and to his role,” said co-trainer Mark Walker.

“His riding has improved 10 fold over the past few months and he’ll be riding jump outs and progress through to trial rides this year.

“Cooper just loves the game, he knows the form of all our horses, and has a very bright future given his passion for racing.”

From Dunedin, Stumbles had little hands-on experience prior to arriving but now confidently straps horses on race days and already progressed to jumping horses out of the barriers.

“I was quite pleased to get recognised with the award,” Stumbles said.

“I love it here. It’s a great place to work and good people.

“I didn’t know how to ride when I started. I’d only cantered on a pony a handful of times and didn’t know anything about track work.

“I’ve had a jump out and starting to ride a few gallops now, and learning heaps every day.

“Initially, I was on the pony for about four or five months, then gradually started on one or two and now, on average, I ride five or six a morning.

“I really enjoy it and I’d like to make a career out of it, eventually.

“I’ve still got a lot to learn and need to build up my strength quite a bit, but I think I’m definitely improving.

“Last winter I did quite a lot of trips down to Awapuni, Woodville, and Hawera, which is good to get around while strapping horses. I love being at the track on trial and race days with our team.

“Chelsea Burdan (Te Akau rider) has been a really big help and after I finish at the track in the morning I go out to her place and work with some of our Te Akau doing other work to keep them mentally alert.

“I like looking through the form and videos of the horses at the trials and races and watching how they progress, and I’m definitely enjoying what I’m doing.”

David Ellis CNZM said:

"Cooper is a terrific example of what a great attitude and work ethic can achieve, he will really go places in this industry I am sure, and we will be doing everything to support him on his career path.

"He and another rising star in our stable Kohen Collett are the types of young people that this industry really needs. They are the future of racing, and we could not be more proud too have them in the team.

"Cooper came to us with an interest in racing, rather than experience, it was a big move from the south but with the blessing and support of his family, we are pleased to be his 'northern family'. He has blossomed and immerses himself in every part of stable life, and the well-being of our horses is paramount to him.

"Our owners love chatting to him at the trials and races, he's a great ambassador not only for Te Akau, but for our industry and we are proud to have him in the team."

David and Karyn developed the Te Akau Team Member Award to recognise our amazing people who are passionate and committed to Te Akau - the winner each quarter receives a cash bonus.

Sign up to our newsletter