Ricky Blewitt doesn’t ride for the accolades.
But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t honoured to be named Country Approved Rider of the Year – for the second year running – at the NSW Country and Provincial Racing Awards in Sydney late last month.
And the award carries special meaning, as the Narromine jockey’s storied career could soon come to an end after more than 20 years in the saddle.
“I came off one two years ago and busted my wrist so I’ve got to go and get the plate taken out,” Blewitt said.
“It will depend on how I pull up from that, whether I keep going or give it away. I am nearly 40!”
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Blewitt is more than a jockey these days; 10 months ago he took on the role of curator at the Narromine Turf Club and he’s relishing the challenge.
The role has given him greater insight when he’s in the saddle, while his experience riding at the best country tracks lends itself to preparing the lush Narromine surface.
Wellington Race Club curator John Mills has also been an invaluable source of advice, and Blewitt admits he’s “still got a lot to learn”.
Curating during the week, riding track work for partner Kylie Kennedy of a morning and then donning the silks at weekends is keeping the veteran pretty busy.
But he’s grateful to the Narromine committee for giving him the opportunity, which has renewed his love for the industry.
“I’ve sort of been on it since I was 15 … I was young and silly,” Blewitt laughed.
“Just getting old sort of makes you realise how good the industry is … but I’ve got a different approach to it now, and I still love to go to the picnics.
“The last season was going to be my last but when this position came up I thought I’d see how things go. I really enjoy it so if I can’t come back from the wrist, I’m still involved with the racing.”
Reminiscing on a highly successful career and his favourite moments, Blewitt said there were “too many to name”.
But the Peter Sinclair-trained Track Flash is one he’s had particular success on in recent years; Blewitt has guided the seven-year-old gelding to nine of his 10 career wins from just 14 starts together (a strike rate of more than 64 per cent).
“I just had a lot of luck on both of them,” he said.
“I’m pretty lucky to get the better horses and I ride for particular trainers that look after me … there’s a lot of good people in racing.”
A particular highlight was riding the James Cummings-trained Colour Of Money at the Melbourne Cup of picnics – the Bong Bong Cup.
“To win in those colours on a Cummings-trained horse was something I never thought I would do,” he said after 2016 win. “I will never forget winning the Bong Bong Cup.”
Blewitt credited the hard work of Deidre Adam (NSW Picnic Racing Association secretary) and Craig Tyack (Tullibigeal Picnic Race Club president) for getting the NSW Picnic Champion Series up and running in late 2016.
The Series has drastically raised the profile of the picnics and made Blewitt’s most recent award possible.
“Up until two years ago, we hardly even got paid to ride at the picnics,” he said.
“They [Adam and Tyack] have put a lot into the picnics to look after us and without them two [we wouldn’t be where we are today].”