Terrific Result Tayla

Date: 27 May 2024

Terrific Result Tayla

Te Akau apprentice Tayla Melvin (21) became the latest in the long list of jockeys that were provided their first win by the stable, when Devoted (6 g Contributer – Mapmaker, by Volksraad) won the $40,000 TAB Rating 65 2100 metres on Saturday at Pukekohe.

More than 20 apprentices had achieved the feat before her, including stable rider Opie Bosson ONZM who recorded his first win about Fairlie Airlie (Zephyr Bay) on 17 November 1995 at Makaraka, and has now racked up 98 Group One victories.

Melvin was born and bred Mosgiel, one of the racing hubs in the South Island, and gained her first introduction to the thoroughbred industry through the Kennedy family, a name synonymous with racing in Otago. 

She looked good when riding horses at the trials and impressed immediately with a good first-up ride for third aboard Polly Plum (Xtravagant) on 19 April at Matamata. Prior to winning at her 11th start she had four fourths in a row, before finishing third on Baronet (Contributer) in the preceding race to Devoted.

“Everything happens a lot quicker in a race than a trial, but I almost treat my rides like they’re still trial rides to keep myself relaxed and not over think things and put too much pressure on myself,” Melvin said.

“I went pretty close on Baronet. He’s a tough little horse, especially backing up three days later after we’d finished fourth at Taupo.

“I’ve watched the replay of Devoted a few times and I’m happy with it. There’s not much I could have done better, in my opinion, especially because he always runs on so well. He’s the kind of horse that doesn’t actually travel, or get on the bridle, but when you ask him the question he answers.

“None of my family is actually involved in racing, but my granddad, Robert Crow, was a jockey many moons ago.

“Mum rode ponies but had no interest or knowledge of the racing industry. I was really good friends with Terry and Debbie Kennedy’s youngest son Jonty and I was out there one afternoon helping them do some work. I didn’t have an after school job at the time, so Terry offered me a job. Obviously, I started on the ground and then started riding and I haven’t looked back since.

“I had a gap year after I left school and worked in the beef boning room at Finegand Freezing Works in Balclutha.

“I’m actually not a natural light weight and was quite heavy when I came up to work for Te Akau, but I’ve put in the hard yards and my weight is really good now.

“I love working with horses, especially when you can develop a good connection with a horse and just work with it. Working with the babies is quite rewarding, going from their first prep and continuing when they come back in. I just love it.

“I’m pretty fit now and all the exercise of riding and other work keeps the brain fresh, too.

“Skew Wiff has been my favourite racehorse so far. No one has been able to top her and I had such a good bond with her. I’ve formed a good bond with Truth Or Dare and The Victress as well.”


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