Rookie apprentice jockey set for Warwick debut

Rookie apprentice hoop Landan Sykes is optimistic he can kick-off his riding career in perfect fashion at Warwick’s Allman Park on Friday afternoon.

The Darling Downs-based teenager will have his first two official race rides on Friday at the provincial TAB meeting before heading to Mount Perry for four engagements the following day. 

The lightweight youngster works under Clifford Park trainer John Thomas, who he will take one ride for on Saturday.

But, before the 18-year-old turns his attention to Mount Perry on Saturday, Sykes thinks he might just be able to snag a debut winning performance.

He will partner veteran gelding Good Grab for trainer Mark Callaghan in the 800 metre scamper at Warwick in Benchmark 55 grade. 

The up-and-coming hoop won a trial on Good Grab in early October at Clifford Park over 650 metres, which Sykes thinks will prepare him well for his second-up assignment.

"I rode him in a trial he won and I know the horse well," Sykes said.

"He is pretty quick out of the gates, likes the shorter distances and a bit of give in the track."

Sykes hails from Gatton and arrived at his first career as a jockey by chance.

He grew up mustering and camp drafting before relocating to the Sunshine Coast to work in a job breaking in horses.

An opportunity presented itself to ride work for Stradbroke Handicap-winning trainer Natalie McCall at Caloundra. 

"I eventually was sent to the race track at the Sunshine Coast to ride track work and then I thought I would give it a go to be a jockey from there," the teenager said.

"I never really planned to become a jockey, it just happened through a process like that.

"I wanted to get closer to home so I decided to move to Toowoomba to be an apprentice and it has gone from there."

While Sykes has not grown up around the racing industry, his parents, siblings and other friends and family are all set to descend on Warwick on Friday for the occasion.

"It feels good and I am excited to have my first race rides," he said.

"Hopefully I can keep doing it for a while as my weight is pretty good at 53kgs."

The apprentice described his boss Thomas as a good mentor and guide to learn under.

He also rides track work for experienced Clifford Park trainers Mark Currie, Kevin Kemp and Callaghan.

Racing and Sports