By Tony Megahey
With her charming Irish brogue and advantaged by some of the finest racing advisors imaginable, Louise Day makes her long-awaited race riding debut on four of Kris Lees's runners at the Tuncurry-Forster TAB Ladies’ Day meeting on Saturday.
The 22-year-old apprentice is from the tiny village of Strokestown in Roscommon County in western Ireland, where she was educated in a traditional equine and farming family. And the Irish links led to her making contact with profile Victorian trainer Ciaron Maher, and also champion jockey Hugh Bowman when he was on an overseas riding stint.
Left: Face Like Thunder - one of Louise Day's mounts at Tuncurry on Saturday. Image by - Steve Hart Photographics
“I’ve been so lucky the way it’s worked out that from back home I was able to get in touch with Ciaron Maher and Hugh Bowman, and it led to an opportunity in Australia,“ Louise enthused after dawn trackwork on Lees’s runners at Newcastle’s Beaumont Track.
“I’ve spent a lifetime in equestrian and showjumping but my goal was always to be a career jockey, so it’s fantastic to get my start over here. After initial contact with Ciaron Maher, the emails were regular with him and Hugh Bowman. They were both fantastic steering me in the right direction.
“So eventually I got the chance to make the big move from home to Melbourne and work for the Maher stable. And they eventually recommended me to the Lees organisation.
“I rode trackwork in Melbourne but didn’t get an opportunity to ride in a race, because the rules are different down there. So Saturday is my first official race riding day and it’s really exciting.”
Louise claims four kilos on her four rides. In the second race, Remodify, in the fourth, Weavered, in the fifth event, Maputo Express and finally Face Like Thunder in race six. All are progressive types, and in suitable races for the Group-winning Lees, who makes a habit of dominating country meetings in proximity to his Newcastle base.
“I’ve ridden them in trackwork; Remodify is working just super, a really nice progressive filly. Weavered is also a jump and run filly that we’re really happy with, and also in a suitable race. Maputo Express was disappointing last start but is better than that and can bounce back.
“Face Like Thunder is up in trip to 2100m but won nicely on pace at a ‘mile’ and she’s also a filly with plenty of upside. Hopefully they’ll all run well but I’ve heard it’s a lovely track and environment so I’m really looking forward to it.”
For the club’s major sponsors, Oatley Wines, there’s a best dressed and head wear awards and free entry for all females.