By Julieanne Horsman
Kellie Holding had never even met Hand It In before she was legged aboard the gelding for the May heat of the Rising Star at Newcastle. It was also her first ride for local trainer Rodney Ollerton, but the plucky apprentice jockey managed to pilot the $31 chance to an upset victory.
Hand It In was a touch slow out the gates but Holding was happy to settle him at the tail of the field.
“I knew he had reasonable form even though the punters didn’t rate him,” she said. “I had a look at a few of his starts and saw he’d won over a mile second up before. He doesn’t have a lot of gate speed and needs a lot of room so I just worked on ensuring he had it.”
Holding made her move at the 500m mark and was the widest as they turned for home.
“As we straightened I knew he was probably only in third gear,” she said. “He wanted to win and just kept giving.”
Holding’s first Rising Star win was even sweeter for the hoop due to the hurdles she had to overcome to get there. After working in other areas of the racing and rodeo industries she finally decided to chase her dream and began her jockey apprenticeship last year.
She rode a winner for her master Les Tilley at Taree on 18th September. Two days later she had a fall at Wyong jump outs which resulted in a dislocated shoulder, two snapped tendons and a torn rotator cuff. She had to undergo surgery and was told she’d be out of the saddle for a year but in a testament to her determination, she was back at trackwork within four months and racing in five and a half months.
“It’s nice to be back and always good to ride a winner,” she said. “Now I’m just focusing on getting stronger and better and trying to ride more winners.”