Jockey Luke Dittman has made every post a winner since linking with champion trainer Chris Waller

COVID has turned the world upside down in 2020, but for jockey Luke Dittman it brought a left field opportunity that opened the door to a partnership which has become one of the most potent in Queensland racing.

Dittman, 29, had been resigned to plying his trade on the provincial circuit, but the introduction of zone racing brought him to the attention of the country’s leading trainer.

Dittman picked up the ride on the Chris Waller-trained Thrum in a Gold Coast race on April 24 and landed the $13 chance a dominant winner.

“He gave it a really good ride and just from the feedback he gave us post-race, I know Chris was really taken by it,” Waller’s Queensland stable manager Paul Shailer said.

“He was very professional and it just built from there.

“He puts them in really good positions and he gives horses every possible chance, which is all you can ask for.

“There’s some high profile owners up here, like Peter Tighe and Noel Greenhalgh, and they love him. It’s just working and he’s clicking with the way our horses race.”

Dittman followed with a couple more winners for the stable in the next few weeks, before winning on Stardome at Eagle Farm in June, after which he was offered a more permanent gig for the Waller stable in Queensland.

Soon after he partnered Sure Knee and Another Dollar to win Group 3 races at Doomben.

“That was massive. It was about two weeks after I got offered the job and to come out and ride those winners was the icing on the cake,” he said.

Dittman, who rides Conexy and Baller for Waller tomorrow, has noticed the difference it makes to his riding having a major stable prepared to back him and it has also been noted by one of his toughest markers – his father, legendary jockey Mick Dittman.

“I am riding with a lot of confidence. My old man has commented a couple of times that I’m riding better than I have in my career,” he said. “Obviously it’s starting to show, because someone like Chris doesn’t just hand out rides left, right and centre.”

Shailer is surprised more trainers haven’t made use of Dittman’s services since he’s become a regular face in town.

“I can’t believe it,” he said.

“I don’t know if it’s because people think he rides for us, but he’s not getting the opportunities his ability deserves.

“I believe there is no one riding better in Queensland at the moment, yet you get to a Saturday and he’s only got the two or three rides.”

Statistics back up the opinion of the Waller camp.

In rides on horses top four in the market in 2020, Dittman has a 24 per cent strike rate and backing each one at level staking shows a 12.8 per cent profit.

On Waller trained runners ranked one to four in the market, the strike rate is 27 per cent for a whopping 25 per cent profit.

Dittman, who rides 55.5kg, is thrilled with the turnaround in his career and would love to see a few more opportunities come his way.

“The way my career had gone, I was happy to get chances at the Gold Coast, so now to go to town with two or three live chances each week is a big difference,” he said.

“One hundred per cent it would be nice to get other rides (outside the Waller stable). I’m happy to sit on whatever anyone wants to throw me.

“I think every jockey wants to go to the races with eight rides and have eight good chances.”

Originally published asCool Hand Luke

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