25-time Group 1-winning jockey Brad Rawiller has given his strongest indication yet that his move to Western Australia will be a permanent one.
The 42-year-old former Victorian has been in WA for two months and, after completing his mandatory two-week home isolation on November 21, he rode at Kirin Railway Stakes day at Ascot that day.
Rawiller made an immediate impact, scoring an upset win on $26 outsider Red Publisher before taking out the following Saturday’s $1 million Crown Perth Winterbottom Stakes aboard the Dan Morton-trained Elite Street.
He’s since ridden a further seven winners, including last Saturday’s Group 3 Mrs Mac’s La Trice Classic aboard Dance Music and the Listed G.A Towton Cup aboard Trap For Fools a fortnight prior, to cement his place high in the order of the local riding ranks.
Speaking to TABradio on Tuesday morning, Rawiller says he couldn’t have asked for a better start to his new venture.
“It’s been great,” he said.
“To be honest, it’s sort of more or less been a fairy-tale start and now I’m just really looking forward to my wife and kids getting over on the weekend.
“They arrive here on Saturday and they obviously need to do two week’s quarantine, which isn’t ideal, but at the same time they’re going to be here now.
“The sooner they get here, the sooner the two weeks will go past.
“I can’t wait to finally be able to share the time here with my family and continue my riding.”
A long-time heavy-weight hoop, Rawiller knows the gruelling regime of jockeys as well as anyone.
Asked how Perth’s lifestyle for a jockey compares to Melbourne’s, the veteran rider of 26 years says WA’s less-demanding workload was part of the reason for his move.
“Back at home it can become a bit of a grind,” Rawiller said.
“It’s relentless every day, not only just trackwork, but racing and the hours you’re in the car and away from family.
“It makes Perth’s lifestyle for a jockey a little bit easier and it’s more or less why I made the move.
“I’m going to be able to take my kids to the beach and go and kick the footy, so I’m really looking forward to that.”
Rawiller has been a regular at Ascot trackwork since his move to Perth and has formed a range of new associations in a short space of time.
Whilst also riding at trial meetings and grass gallops at Belmont, he says he’s appreciated the early opportunities he’s been given.
“Lindsey Smith has been a huge supporter, not only getting me here, but as well with rides since I’ve moved across,” he said.
“I haven’t actually needed to ride work out there, so most of my work has been at Ascot.
“I really enjoy riding there and I’ve got a number of trainers, Dan Morton being my main trainer, that I ride for.
“It’s worked out that I’ve had good support and made the transition more or less pretty easy going.”
Rawiller wasted to ride 56.kg — the lightest he’s ridden at for almost two months — when he partnered talented debutant In The Boat at Bunbury on December 30.
Prepared by Lindsey Smith, the Nostradamus three-year-old was a winner at five of six trials leading into his first race start and justified his $1.28 favouritism and Rawiller’s decision to waste with an effortless two-and-a-half length win, leaving the jockey excited for his career ahead.
“He’s just a lovely animal,” he said.
“For a horse he’s the perfect athlete but, to go with it, he’s got a great temperament.
“He’s a happy horse and it was great to get him to the races and tick the first box.
“It was probably not the greatest field but you can only win and win he did, so I’m sure there’ll be a nice future for him.”
Rawiller also says he plans on lowering his minimum riding weight over the coming weeks in the hope of increasing his number of rides.
“Whenever making a transition into a new place, you just don’t walk in and get full books,” he said.
“Probably with the Group 1 racing and the Perth Cup being the main targets, I wasn’t really wanting to push my weight too light, either.
“Seeing the main races have passed now, I might be able to push my weight a little bit further and create even more opportunity.”
After a dream beginning, Rawiller’s decision to move to WA has so far paid dividends.
The star jockey hopes reacquainting with his family for the first time for more than two months will be the final piece of the puzzle to fulfil a work-life balance and continue his successful start.
“It’s definitely the moved that I’ve made now that the family are coming over,” he said.
“I’ve decided that I’m going to make a fist of it but, more or less, it’s indefinite how long I’ll be staying.
“Seeing the main races have passed, I might be able to push my weight a little bit further now and create even more opportunity.
“Hopefully the support continues and I can continue to get good opportunities and I’ll be staying.”