Wellington – Veteran New Zealand jockey Grant Cooksley has matched one of Lester Piggott’s achievements.
Cooksley, like the famed English rider, has been able to win a Group 1 race aged 57. Cooksley achieved that feat when he won the Tarzino Trophy on Close Up at Hastings recently.
It is likely that and he and Piggott are the oldest riders to have won an internationally recognised Group 1 race.
Piggott, who won a Group 1 title at Ellerslie in 1980, recorded his final Group 1 win in September 1993, in the Moyglare Stakes in Ireland, just two months short of his 58th birthday. He was 58 when he won the Group 2 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket in 1994, a race that now has Group 1 status.
Cooksley, who will turn 58 in December, was having just his third ride for the season when he won the Tarzino. It was his 66th Group 1 win but his first at that level since January 2006, when he won the Wellington Cup on Envoy.
Cooksley has a career tally of more than 2,500 wins, including over 1,000 in New Zealand, where his list of major victories also includes three wins in both the Auckland Cup and New Zealand Derby.
He has spent much of his riding career in Australia, where his wins have included two Sydney Cups, three Metropolitans and a Doncaster and he has finished second in both the Melbourne Cup and Golden Slipper (twice).
He has also ridden in Singapore, Hong Kong, England, Dubai, Malaysia, Macau and New Caledonia.
Cooksley’s first major win came when he won the 1978 Great Northern Steeplechase, on Ballycastle, as an 18-year-old. – New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing