Daniel Stackhouse is looking forward to his second major overseas stint when he takes up a riding contract with the leading Gujadhur stable in Mauritius this week.
The New Zealand-born jockey, who served his apprenticeship with Te Akau’s champion trainer Mark Walker, made his first big move in December 2010 when he left home on a two-week Australian scholarship with former Black Caviar trainer Peter Moody. He went again when Moody asked him to return for a longer stay the next year – and he hasn’t left Australia since.
After riding 119 winners in New Zealand, including 20 over fences (he held a dual flat and hurdles riding licence but he focuses on flat now), Stackhouse now boasts a handy record nearing 550 winners, mostly gained on the provincial Victorian circuit, but he does hit paydirt on the odd occasion he leaves his Mornington home for the long drive out to the city tracks.
During the Moody era, Stackhouse landed a Group 3 win aboard There’s Only One for Moody in the Bellmaine Stakes at Caulfield in 2013. He also won the Group 3 G1x.com.au Stakes aboard Coronation Shallan for Brett Scott on Cox Plate day at Moonee Valley in 2015.
After Moody quit training in 2016, Stackhouse continued to ride freelance and impress other trainers, including Lee Freedman for whom he won the Listed VRC St Leger at Flemington with Cool Chap in 2016.
He was again successful at the headquarters just last Saturday week when he shone in the Godolphin colours aboard Tarquin for James Cummings, edging off 2017 Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time.
The Indian Ocean is a much wider expanse of water than the Tasman Sea, and things are going really well for Stackhouse in Melbourne at the minute, but the 27-year-old needed little persuasion in packing his bags again.
“I was given an opportunity of a riding contract for Mr Soun Gujadhur in Mauritius a couple of weeks ago. As international riding is something I’ve always had at the back of my mind, I was keen to have a go,” said Stackhouse who rode at his farewell meeting at Caulfield on Saturday.
“With the winter also coming up here, I thought I’d jump at the opportunity. Things are going well for me here, and I’ll be missing some good rides in Melbourne no doubt, as a lot of trainers have supported me here, but I must also look after myself, and have a go.
“I’ve been in Australia for seven years now, but I thought I’d take up that opportunity to travel the world and you never know what it could bring.”
While Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau are among the more traditional career paths charted by Australasian jockeys bitten by the wanderlust, Mauritius has also been a popular spot. Stackhouse is for one keen to discover the third place where he will be plying his trade very soon.
“I don’t really know much about Mauritian horse racing other than what Steven Arnold, Noel Callow, James Winks, Damien Oliver, Daniel Moor and Vlad Duric recently briefed me about,” said Stackhouse.
“I now know the basics that they race one day a week and they really love their racing. They’ve all ridden there and they all said I’d be silly not to take up the opportunity.
“I’ve seen videos of the Champ de Mars track and it’s a pretty tight track. It shouldn’t pose any problem as I’ve ridden on similar tracks in Victoria like Hanging Rock and even in New Zealand, Hokitika and Greymouth on the West Coast.
“I also know that the Gujadhur family has been involved in Mauritius horse racing for a long time, and racing is a family tradition for them. They have a big fan base.
“The crowd in Mauritius is massive and close to the rails. They really get behind their horses. It’d be a different experience for a change.
“I’m going there with an open mind and will take it as it comes. I’m quite excited with this new adventure.”
Stackhouse is going to Mauritius alone with the possibility of being joined by his wife for short holidays.
“Obviously I did discuss with Jana before accepting the offer and she supports me 100%,” he said.
“Unfortunately, she won’t be able to join me for the time being, but she will definitely come up for holidays.”