Mereana Hudson enjoys first stakes win

By Liz Whelan

13 Oct 2021

Mereana Hudson enjoys first stakes winMereana Hudson and Magic Incanto combined to win the Gr. 3 Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes at Hawera las

Mereana Hudson had a day to remember on Saturday, when she claimed her first stakes win aboard Magic Incanto in the Gr. 3 Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes at Hawera.
The $29 shot, who also gave Hastings trainer Fred Pratt his first stakes victory, led throughout over 1400m and she never really looked like being caught.
“I felt a different kind of confidence going into the race, but I wasn’t confident that she’d be able to jump and acquire the position that she needed to be in – she needed to lead,” says Hudson.
“I was just doing my job, doing what the trainer told me to do, and it paid off.”
The 36-year-old resides in Wanganui these days, and she grew up in Marton opposite the racecourse.
“My family wasn’t into racing at all. We had no horse background, and Dad actually hated horses!” she laughs.
“But as a kid, I used to see the horses at the Marton racecourse all the time, and when I was 14, I met a trainer there. I had to learn how to rise to the trot on a trotting horse without a saddle, and that’s where it kind of began.
“Oh, and when I was really young, I used to jump on any horse I could see and bolt bareback. I think that’s probably why my Dad hated horses!”
Hudson was initially unaware that becoming a jockey was a viable career option, until a chance encounter with a Wanganui police officer.
“I was about 17 years old, and I got stopped by a police officer on the side of the road. He asked me what my interests were, and I said ‘animals’. He asked me what sort, and I said, ‘horses, mostly.’
“He said to me, ‘hop in my car, and I’ll take you somewhere.’”
He took her to the Wanganui racecourse, and helped her to enrol in the Training For You: Thoroughbred Racing Course, where she was able to learn the fundamentals from scratch and begin her journey towards becoming a jockey.
“I’ve been a jockey for a long time now, on and off,” says Hudson. “I’ve had three children along the way, and I thought I was finished after I had a race fall in Palmerston North in around 2011.
“Because I was concussed, I didn’t remember it and came back alright.
“Then, I had my second one at Otaki, and I didn’t get concussed for that one. I felt everything, and after that, I lost my nerve and had a big rest.”
She eventually began riding trackwork again for a variety of trainers, and was then offered the opportunity to resume her apprenticeship.
Now, Hudson rides trackwork for Jo Rathbone every day, and credits her with “helping her out immensely”. She juggles the demands of being a jockey with being a mother, with a nine-year-old and a six-year-old at home, and a 16-year-old who works in the Bay of Islands.
“My partner of 12 years is amazing. He helps out a lot with the kids, which makes it easier on me.”
She admits that maintaining her weight isn’t something that comes easily to her.
“I look really light, but I’m on the heavier side. It might be bone density or maybe I have really big muscles!” she laughs.
“I normally have to lose about 1kg on raceday. I really have to watch what I eat and I’m still figuring out what food I can eat that won’t make me gain weight. Running helps as well. I’m not complaining though, I don’t waste like a lot of jockeys do. I do eat, but just not lots.
“And days like Saturday make it all worth it.”