THE Newcastle Cup wasn't originally on Alysha Collett's radar, but it certainly is now.
Collett will be on board Kris Lees-trained Luncies in Friday's group 3 feature having recently relocated to the Central Coast to continue her career as a jockey amid ongoing coronavirus lockdowns across large parts of the state.
She upped and left her Sydney base with Racing NSW basically dividing hoops into metropolitan and country zones.
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"I had to move because of COVID," Collett told the Newcastle Herald.
"I was living in Sydney and obviously when restrictions came in we chose to get out and do the isolation period and now we're on the Central Coast.
"It was hard to stomach at first because you're in a routine and you've got a base. Then all of a sudden everything changes.
"We've got a little cat and dog as well so they had to come with us and all the rest of it. We're onto our second place now because at the moment we're only taking it month by month.
"I've only got one suitcase of clothing because I packed small not planning that far ahead, thinking it'll only last a few weeks.
"So for me it's been a lot more travelling, driving places I don't normally ride and probably missing out on those midweek provincial meetings I would normally do."
Despite the major disruptions and initial doubts about "making the wrong decision", New Zealand native Collett has embraced the unexpected change of scenery and feels "grateful" for the new opportunities.
During the opening six weeks of the 2021-22 season, the 27-year-old has notched up 21 winners to sit second in the NSW premiership and fifth overall nation wide.
"It has been a good start to the season and I've only been back [from Singapore] a year so I was pretty surprised with it all. Hopefully it keeps going this way," she said.
This will be her first Newcastle Cup while brother and fellow jockey Jason won the prize with Disclaimer in 2014.
She teamed up for trackwork with Lees' five-year-old gelding last week.
"It's nice to have a ride in the race. Being one of Kris' horses they know the track and train there," Collett said.
"I had a gallop on Luncies the other day and thought he worked well. He should be thriving whe we get to 2300 metres."
Luncies was weighted at 54 kilograms on Tuesday. Fields for the $250,000 race will be released on Wednesday.
Also on Friday, Collett may ride Duais in the Cameron Handicap and Harmony Rose in the Tibbie Stakes.
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