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High Hopes For Japanese Apprentice At Kembla Grange Today

Japanese apprentice Ryoya Kozaki will start a dream Australian stint riding Raise An Army and Naughty Thoughts at Kembla Grange today.

Premier trainer Chris Waller has given the young rider a chance in Sydney for four months after meeting him on a recent trip to Japan and being impressed by his skills.

Kozaki will not claim in Australia after 80 wins in his homeland, including 15 this year with three stakes win. He has earned almost $2 million in prizemoney but he craved the opportunity to come to Australia.

"I have been riding in the JRA but I have always envied the appeal Australian racing has, and in particular Sydney racing as the most competitive riding arena in the world,” Kozaki said.

“When the opportunity came up through my agent Takaya Kimura (who also manages Zac Purton, Hugh Bowman and Umberto Rispoli during their Japanese stints).

“I have been very fortunate that Mr Waller has invited me to ride for his stable in Sydney and after arriving here have been nothing but highly impressed with the standard of horses and jockeys.

“I understand the competitive nature but I feel Sydney is the best place in the world to prove myself, and I am hoping that this period with Mr Waller can further my knowledge and experience as a jockey.

“I am a young man with ambition and goals and I hope to one day prove myself on the international stage."

Kozaki will open his Australian career in the Brooks Trezona maiden Handicap riding Raise An Army, who returns as a gelding. The son of Sepoy has proven frustrating with seven placing from 12 starts and has the benefit of a couple of quiet trial, the latest with Kozaki in the saddle.

Later in the afternoon, Kozaki rides Naughty Thoughts, which is coming off a couple of Newcastle placings, in the Ben Melham benchmark 65 Handicap.

“I’m hoping to get a winner for Mr Waller quickly,” he said.

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