Champion jockey Greg Ryan may have finished a close second in the 2016/17 NSW jockeys premiership, but the evergreen hoop still considers his efforts a success.
Ryan’s winning double at Dubbo on Monday gave him a tally of 130 victories for the season, six behind premiership winner Jeff Penza.
Those wins came from a tally of 622 rides, with his mounts earning more than $2.2 million in prizemoney
But while most people would lament missing out on the title, Ryan was philosophical about how the season panned out.
Ryan was suspended by stewards for seven weeks in November for not giving a mount every chance in a race.
And while he stands by his philosophies when it comes to race riding, he has turned negatives into positives and says his run-ins with stipes over the past few years have proven beneficial.
“I look back now and I think I’m riding with a more level head these days,” he said.
“A few of the things that I’ve experienced upset me when they happened, but I’ve learned to move on. That’s taken a bit of pressure off me and I’m happy with the results I’ve had.
“Since I’ve come back the stewards have been been very fair. I go out there and do my job, and I think over the past couple of months in particular I’ve been riding as well as ever.
“Jeff (Penza) is a terrific fella though. He works hard for his family, is a great rider and an even better bloke so I was happy for him that he got the rewards that he did.”
Ryan said the support of his wife Pauline and some of the state’s strongest stables had helped him at a time when riding winners is the hardest it has ever been.
More and more often Ryan’s regular hunting grounds in the Central West and the Hunter and North West regions are being targeted by high-profile stables and jockeys.
But the 51-year-old has accepted the challenge.
“I didn’t have as many rides last season and I missed a lot more of the non-TAB meetings and focused on quality rather than quantity,” he said.
“The competition isn’t getting any easier. Trainers are travelling further and so are jockeys.
“There’s good, competitive riders going to a lot of these meetings now, particularly at Scone and Muswellbrook and those kinds of places, and the actual fields are a lot more competitive as well.
“That’s why I was happy with my season. I didn’t have as many rides as I normally would but I still managed to get the winners and my strike rate was good.
“There’s as much work that goes into getting the rides and organising things. It’s a job within a job and Pauline is terrific at that stuff.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without her so she deserves a lot of the accolades as well.”