How I Got The Racing Bug

I am constantly asked “How I got involved in racing” or “When did you get involved in racing”, when I think of answers to these questions, it takes me back to my early childhood. So I have now decided to share how and when I got the racing but as it is referred to.

I was born in Melbourne, which is also known as the Racing Capital of Australia as it is home to the Melbourne Cup which after all is the race that stops the nation. I was a typical little girl, wanted a pony! Unfortunately, I was from a single parent family so having a pony was out of the question as was attending pony club as we simply couldn’t afford it. My family would regularly go to the Melbourne Show on during the September school holidays and me being me, I would deliberately go missing from the group however, would be found where expected in the stables! I would run off to go through the stables looking at all the horses but my favourite thing was to watch the Clydesdales being brushed and prepped for the Grand Parade, Mum always knew where to find me.

When not at school, I was the kid that was either going to the library and borrowing books on horses or dogs and developing my knowledge on these animals or I was sitting on my bed drawing pictures you guessed it, of either horses or dogs. It was probably around this age that I started writing, my stories always being Horse Racing stories so I was therefore always drawing racehorses and coming up with names for them. The passion I had for the sport was natural as nobody in my family is involved in racing whatsoever.

Melbourne Cup was and still is my favourite time of the year, those close to me know that I look forward to Melbourne Cup carnival more than Christmas. Every year, I would convince my family to go on a picnic to the large reserve that is on the other side of the Yarra River that runs along the back straight of Flemington. We would go there and tune in the radio to listen to the race, me grabbing the form guide (which I had taught myself to read) and would place 20 cent bets against the family.

I remember walking into class one day and being told that our class was going on a school excursion in a few weeks, my dreams had come true it was to Caulfield Race Track and the Melbourne Museum. I also can recall running home to get mum to sign the permission slip and begging her to let me go, not only to come along to chaperone the trip. I still think Mum signed it simply to shut me up as I would not stop going on about it.

For the days in the lead up, the excitement continued to grow so you can just imagine the day of the excursion, I was one very excited little girl. We arrived at the track and had our own personal tour around the grounds, we were also allowed onto the track to feel the turf under our feet and to see the barriers up close, I was loving the experience but it was about to get so much better for me.

We then went around to some of the stables on track, where we were greeted by a Trainer who gave a talk on training race horses and what was involved in it as well as what it is like to work with these animals I had only ever seen on TV. We then had a chat by a jockey who also talked about their job and the requirements, this is where the lightbulb came on for me I had the answer to the question “what do you want to be when you are older” from then on my answers were either a Jockey or a Race Horse Trainer.

We were then allowed to go around the stable, this is when I first laid eyes on Thoroughbred up close. I was instantly take aback by their beauty and regalness that they had about them. This is probably the first time that I had fallen in love, I was just amazed by the horses and their beauty all I wanted to do was to be around them.

Time came to leave the stables and I remember having to be pulled out of the stables, but we were on our way to the second part of the trip the Melbourne museum, to see the one and only Phar Lap exhibit. In all of my research from reading the race books, I knew exactly who Phar Lap was and was so excited. The memorabilia that was on display was just so amazing and fascinating to see. I also recall going to the museum store and wanting to buy the merchandise but was not allowed.

For many many months I would not stop talking about the excursion and my passion for the horses and the industry had just grown more. Every time I was asked about what I wanted to be the answer from then on was working with race horses, even to the point I started to stop eating as much as I used to. Mum I think was much smarter than I thought and she had realised what I was doing, so my plates of food grew and I was forced to eat everything on my plate. My mum back then was not a fan of horses, mainly because when we would go to Swanson street in Melbourne I would stop and pat every horse taxi there was, sadly one of them bit mum. My story writing on race horses only developed more and I would use a lot of paper to write my stories and to draw my pictures.

So as I got older the passion has only continued and has developed with me. My teenage years were spent in a small country town in Far North Queensland. Going from a large city to a small country town was a hard adjustment for me and something I really struggled with. My solace was found when I located the race track, I would ride around and ask those with horses if they needed any help looking after the horses, because I had no experience nobody was interested. This didn’t stop me that every time I would fight with mum I would run away to the race track just to see the horses or just to watch them work.

By the time I had reached Grade 10, I had decided that I wanted to leave school and go work in the racing industry, again mum had other ideas about that I was told that I was not quitting school and had to go right through to Grade 12 and graduate so I did. Come to the time in which we had to make decisions about our future study after high school, you probably guessed it I had applied for courses to do with horse management and racing. Letters came back and I had been accepted into most of the courses I had applied for, however, being under the age of 18 I had to get parental consent to attend mum would not give the approval as we could not afford the courses, instead I went on to start working at Coles (which in the long-term did not turn out to be a bad start).

All throughout my adult life the passion has only continued and developed more, for many years I have tried to find ways to work in the industry that I have loved my whole life. I had found another avenue to get in, Ownership. The Ownership journey has been a fun one and one that I will share in another post.

In 2014, I crossed the number 1 item on my bucket list off Attended the Melbourne Cup (from inside Flemington). Not only  did I go to the Cup but I also got to experience the Victoria Derby being run as well, this was one of the best experiences of my life and is much better than watching the race on Tv. I had time on my trip that I was lucky enough to go back and see my fave exhibit Phar Lap. This time buying merchandise from the store to show my love and support for Big Red.

 

For those that have met me or know me closely will know just the passion I have for race horses and not just my own but also the industry. This is when I feel most alive and relaxed, horses are my life and so is racing!

 

 

2 Replies to “How I Got The Racing Bug”

  1. I didn’t end up embroiled with horse racing as such but as a young girl I spent most weekends traipsing around with my Dad who was a tad dodgy to say the least and knew every yard owner, trainer and equally dodgy sort all over Northern England.

    Sat for hours in the cab of a 7.5 tonne box parked round the back of some yard, at tracks and racecourses, in the pub or at the bookies.

    At that age I was already riding but learned everything from a gypsy horse dealer that bought horses and ponies on the way to slaughter, broke, schooled and then sold them on at auction.

    Dad raved and ranted and said I shouldn’t be going near horses so I was forced to stay in the cab, shut up and stay put.

    A girl that worked at one yard we went to often and to this day I know only as “Fred” spotted me most weekends and long and short, sweet-talked my Dad into agreeing to let me go on the yard and just hang out and spend time with the horses.

    Then one day she said we’d have a quiet hack out and I could ride her horse – a 16hh TB ex-racer named “Copper” and the quiet hack quickly became a road leading to a sandy beach.

    At that age I was fearless and never realised or even gave thought to being at risk so when she told me to loosen up, let him go and don’t hit the brakes no matter what – I did just that and went from being stationary to a flat out gallop hurtling along the shoreline within seconds.

    At the time it meant nothing to me but she and others talked about a horse named “Red Rum” that used to be at their yard and he was something people made a song and dance about… Meant zilch to me at 10yrs of age but Fred had taken me to the very same stretch of beach at Southport where Red Rum was trained and loved to gallop flat out until he ran out of steam too.

    Each time I’m at Aintree and see Red Rum’s statue in all its glory I remember that little quiet hack out and how fortunate I was to have that experience even if that lass was barmy.

    Also another friend of mine who used to work for the McCain’s and looked after / rode Red Rum during his hey-day remembers him most because “He was a right sod to brush” which you know is someone that knew and loved the horse not just the legend.

    Like

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