Another milestone for Grant Cooksley
6 September 2017, 4:23 p.m.
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 I race aged 57.
Cooksley became the oldest rider to win a Group I race in New Zealand when he won the Tarzino Trophy on Close Up at Hastings last weekend.
It is likely that and he and Piggott are the oldest riders to have won an internationally recognised Group I race.
Piggott, who won a Group I race at Ellerslie in 1980, recorded his final Group I win in September 1993, in the Moyglare Stakes in Ireland, when two months short of his 58th birthday. He was 58 when he won the Group II Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket in 1994, a race that now has Group I 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 I win but his first at that level since January 2006, when he won the Wellington Cup on Envoy.
Cooksley did not have a Group I ride last season but won the Group II Manco Easter Stakes at Elllerslie in April, on Seventh Up, who is Close Up’s younger brother. It was Cooksley’s fourth win in the Easter, which had been a Group I race till it was downgraded last season.
Cooksley also recorded a Group II double on Soriano in 2015.
He has a career tally of more than 2500 wins, including over 1000 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.
Noel Harris had previously been the oldest rider to win a Group I race in New Zealand, when winning the 2010 Telegraph Handicap on Vonusti, aged 55.