IN-form Wagga apprentice jockey Josh Richards has his sights set on a big goal next year.
Richards returned home for a brief Christmas break with family, before quickly returning to Melbourne to ride at Caulfield on Boxing Day.
The 27-year-old sits sixth on the Melbourne metropolitan jockey's premiership and also leads the apprentice's title.
Richards, along with his boss, trainer Michael Kent, have set the metropolitan apprentice jockey's premiership as his goal for the 2021-22 season.
Richards, who went into Christmas with a four-win lead over Matthew Cartwright, is looking forward to the challenge.
"Once I got down there and got going, Mick had a chat to me and he said we'll wait for the new season and I got the extension on my apprenticeship and the main target now is to look for the apprentice championship down there and we'll give it a red hot crack for the next 12 months," Richards said.
"There is a big base of apprentices down there and always a lot of good jockeys come out of Melbourne so I think it's a good place to be and a good challenge to have in front of me."
Richards again claimed the SDRA apprentice's title for this last season gone. That was despite moving to Melbourne in May.
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It only took a matter of months for Richards to establish himself as one of the leading apprentices in Melbourne, a fact he is still coming to terms with.
"After you have a good day at the races, you kind of sit back and think if you look back 12 months ago, or even six months ago, to see where I was and to see where I am now, obviously the races I'm riding in, trainers I'm riding for and the other riders you're riding against, I didn't think it would all come so quickly," he said.
"It's been really great. Especially all the support from back home, from friends and family, right across to all the support from the trainers I've been getting support from down there and they've made it really enjoyable."
With lockdowns and the closure of state borders, along with a busy riding schedule, there has been few opportunities for Richards to return home since making the move.
Richards enjoyed returning to Wagga for Christmas and is happy to have partner Maddy Collins, and her son Isaac, joining him in Melbourne now.
It looms as a busy time ahead with the pair expecting a baby boy in March.
"It's great to finally get home," Richards said.
"There is a lot to look forward to in the next 12 months. Busy times ahead but everything's coming together."
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