He’s a self-confessed ‘ratbag’ who has become the shock king of the Western Districts Racing Association.
Jake Pracey-Holmes will be back at the scene of two of his most memorable wins this weekend when he again lines up in the $150,000 Country Championships qualifier at Dubbo Turf Club.
Pracey-Holmes will be shooting for his third straight success in the event and if recent history is any guide he’s a chance no matter what he’s legged over in the 1400m race.
“That’s what everyone else has been saying. I just ride a horse the way it needs to be ridden and if it wins it wins,’’ he told Racing NSW.
It’s looking likely that Pracey-Holmes will be riding a local hope at generous odds come Sunday’s race as he’s committed to partner Sprezzatura for Clint Lundholm or, if that horse doesn’t gain a start, The Rouseabout for last year’s winning trainer Justin Stanley.
In 2017 the Gulgong-based jockey partnered the fairytale Bourke horse Stoneyrise, who was an outsider in early betting before starting $10, then backed it up last year with another upset on Good Host at $26.
And while those wins have marked him as one of the region’s leading jockeys, Pracey-Holmes knows he’s lucky to be in the position he is.
Pracey-Holmes is settled at Gulgong with partner, Liz, and two daughters.
But settled wasn’t always a word associated with Pracey-Holmes when he was younger, as he grew up in Campbelltown away from the racing scene.
“I should have been brought up in the racing game, I always said I wanted to be a jockey but I was always over in Campbelltown doing what everyone else did,’’ he said.
“I was a ratbag when I was younger. I was mixing with the wrong crowd. I was doing stupid things, fighting and drinking.
“I could either stay in Sydney and make nothing of myself or go to the bush and make something of myself.
“If I’d have stayed in Campbelltown I’d have been a bum.’’
He found his way back to racing and that should have come as no surprise given his grandmother Joan (Pracey) and grandfather Terry (Pracey) have been trainers.
After starting out as an apprentice with Clarry Conners at Warwick Farm he made the move west at 18 to give himself the best chance of making a life for himself.
He spent the bulk of his apprenticeship with Peter Nestor at Dubbo, though did return to Warwick Farm for a couple of years. It was during that time he met Liz and with their first child on the way headed back to the country.
Pracey-Holmes, who sometimes sports a beard and is currently growing a mullet, enjoyed a career best season by winners, 51, in 2017-18 and is on the way to matching it this season.
Sprezzatura, his likely ride in Sunday’s qualifier, ran sixth in the race in 2018 but has managed just one placing in four starts since.
Pracey-Holmes has ridden him in any of those four starts.
Final fields for the Country Championships qualifier will be released on Thursday.
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