By Jack Marshall
In what is certainly a first in Australian racing history, a father, son and daughter will be riding on the same program at Port Macquarie Race Club this Sunday.
Prominent northern NSW jockey Peter Graham will line up with his son Jesse and daughter Cejay, who is having her first career ride.
History in the making (L-R): Jesse, Cejay and Peter Graham
18-year-old Cejay partners Unique Miss in the second race and Jemily in the fourth race, both for her master Port Macquarie trainer John Sprague.
Jesse, 21, who is also indentured to John Sprague, has two rides while Peter has three mounts including one in the second with Cejay. It will be a hometown event for the Grahams who grew up in Port Macquarie.
Peter said Cejay having her first ride and all three riding at the same meeting made it a very special day for the family and a somewhat anxious one for him.
“With Cejay riding in a race for the first time I will be nervous as it’s a big thing going from barrier trials to race riding which takes a bit of getting used to,” he said.
“I’m a lot more comfortable with Jesse riding now as he’s been apprenticed for two years and he knows what he’s doing. Everyone is happy to help you in the trials and give you some pointers but once you get to the races you’re out there on your own as everyone’s riding for owners and for prizemoney so it’s very competitive.”
Becoming a jockey was never really a planned career for Cejay but her love of horses and natural talent as rider saw her go down that path.
“We never really thought she would become a jockey but she got into pony clubs and show jumping around three years ago and she was a very talented rider. She was too good a rider not to pursue a career as a jockey,” Peter said.
Cejay has had almost 30 rides in barrier trials, with her Dad driving her all over Northern NSW to secure rides in trials. It is challenging task for apprentices in the country obtaining rides in trials as unlike the Metropolitan and Provincial areas trials in the Country are usually only held after the last race.
With only one or two trials conducted it can be difficult to get rides with only a limited number of opportunities.
“Cejay has been very busy travelling around riding in trials, just this week we travelled to Tamworth for three rides and on Monday went down to Taree for a trial after the last. She has received a lot of support from trainers, other jockeys and stewards which has helped her massively and is very much appreciated.
“Apprentice mentor Malcom Fitzgerald has also been a significant help with giving out advice and looking after Cejay. It’s a very hard and dangerous job where we have an ambulance follow you around while you work so it’s unique in that sense. At this point in her career every bit of advice and support helps.”