Winners Never Quit and Quitters Never Win -THE COLLETT FAMILY
When you see the horse float of Richard Collett’s, you get an insight to his personality.
There are his distinctive green and yellow racing colours, based on the local Pukekohe Rugby Cub, painted on the door and a quote that is bold, front and centre - Winners never quit and quitters never win.
The quote is a reflection of Collett’s determination to succeed in his early training days, when others thought he would fail, particularly when he went out on his own account.
"It followed me that quote. When times were tough you just had to step up and get on with it, and the colours, they are an identity" he explains.
Richard Collett was bred to be in racing and followed older brother Jim into race riding. Their parents, Don and Dorothy Collett, built up Nottingham Park Stud on the outskirts of Gore, standing stallions and running a successful racing team.
Richard was a successful jumps jockey, remarkably finishing third in the Grand National Steeplechase as a 15-year-old amateur rider.
"Riding was just natural to me, but school was important too, I found school easy and finished my seventh form year.
I rode as an amateur right through school but took out my [professional] licence as soon as I left school, mixing riding for dad with race day.
"It was a fun time, but I knew I had to do something else, I couldn't ride forever." With 74 winners on the board, it was time to diversify.
Riding over fences was put to one side when, after training in partnership with his father for several years, and marrying Judy Hawes, also a successful rider, an offer to move north to train for a listed company was too good to refuse.
Richard shifted to Pukekohe and was training a team of well bred horses for a public company, with no expense spared.
"Those were the heydays of racing, with tax write-offs and big companies having horses and studs. It was the thing to be doing" Richard explained.
But the good times did not last and the company Collett was training for went into receivership.
"It then got hard. I had had well bred horses just given to me to train before, now I had to go out and find them, but I was no quitter" he said with a smile.
"I built the stable up, we got up to 35 horses, Judy and I worked hard."
Richard would be the first to acknowledge that Judy’s support has been critical to his success. "It was hard at the beginning, but I had the backing of my best friend Judy - we are a good team.
"Judy provides the attention to detail, I know how to get a horse fit, but it’s Judy that keeps them happy. She is the stable manager, and our individual skills complement each other."
Richard was proud of his riding career, but it is when discussing his training career, being a father and the success of his children that his voice becomes more animated.
"We joke that Judy is a good broodmare. She should have been nominated for broodmare of the year with the progeny she has produced" Richard laughs.
The Collett siblings Tasha, Jason and Alysha have all stamped their mark on the riding scene, and been an integral part of Collett Racing Stables.
"Training horses that my kids then win on in our racing colours and watching them succeed, it’s been a huge thrill. Their success has been the measure of my success.”
Alysha says that she puts more pressure on herself than she gets from dad on raceday. "I've been pretty lucky and now that I am a senior rider I get to ride most of dad’s, unless he is claiming.
But I am hard on myself, I want to do well for him, I want him to win as much as I do" she explains.
The Colletts are a close family. "Jason and I talk every day” Alysha said, "We throw ideas around and pick each other’s brains.
"Straight after a race meeting he is talking to me on the phone on the way home from the races. After each race meeting we look at the tapes and go through his rides and we help each other.
"Tash is still a part of it too, she knows what we are all doing, and offers a critique. She is looking forward to being a mum now too".
Asked if she thought the family bond was unique, Alysha offered an interesting perspective. "Racing makes us strong. It has a very strong hold, we all know it so well, we live it, it’s what keeps us together.
Mum and dad are so strong, I have never seen them fight, they bounce ideas of each other, it’s just such a unique thing. I can’t think of any of my friends that share that tightness" she said.
Richard nods in agreement, adding "The industry has been good to me, it’s the people you meet . From the beginning right through until now I have met some great people, just by enjoying racing."
We watch Alysha putting on the colours for another ride on a Collett Racing Stables horse and there is a real sense of pride seen between father and daughter, and a dedication to the hard work that has gone into this team.
We ask Richard how his team will go today, "Never quitting, always trying to win" was the quick reply.
- Love Racing