By Ray Hickson
Nobody but apprentice Leah Kilner was ever going to ride She’s Choosie when the local filly lines up in Sunday’s Country Championships Qualifier at Grafton.
It doesn’t hurt that the three-year-old is trained by her father Greg Kilner but the former jockey says Leah has more than earned the honour.
It sets up a potentially memorable $150,000 NRRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) as the father-daughter team hopes to win their way to Randwick.
There’s already been a number of special moments during the 2019 series – Tash Burleigh’s quinella at Goulburn, Cameron Crockett’s emotional Mudgee win and the tears of joy from Cody Morgan at Tamworth to name a few.
“Leah’s only been riding for 14 months and she’s nearly outridden her claim,’’ Kilner said.
“She broke the horse in, educated her right through and she deserves the ride on her for sure.’’
If She’s Choosie finishes in the first two and qualifies for Randwick the Kilners will have to rely on Leah being approved to ride in Sydney as she hasn’t reached that part of her career as yet.
Kilner said the filly, who cost $26,000, has always shown plenty of ability and her record of five wins and five seconds from 15 starts is testament to that.
She's Choosie runs second at Armidale on March 3
While it’s not easy for a filly to give weight to older horses he feels under the conditions of the Qualifier she’s not badly placed when you look at that record.
“It doesn’t look as strong as previous years, she’s got 57kg but when you look at the horses on 56kg they are mostly Class 1 and 2 horses,’’ he said.
“It’s a terrific concept and we are just lucky to have a go at it.’’
She’s Choosie is the 64-year-old’s first Country Championships runner and he feels she’s had a smooth preparation and is ready to prove herself at 1400m.
Her two runs back from a spell have resulted in seconds at the Gold Coast and Armidale, the latter in open company.
“She’s needed the two runs but she is fit and well now,’’ Kilner said.
“You’ve got to have a go, her mother was placed over 2100m at Warwick Farm and Mathew Cahill got off her one day and said she wants 1400m.
“The way she’s racing she’s a bit dour now and she wants to settle a bit more.’’
With rain forecast for Grafton later in the week Kilner said that’s something he’s not concerned about as She’s Choosie has a second at Doomben on a heavy 9 against her name.
What has the potential to aggrieve him is the barrier draw.
“It’s such a turning track and you can’t be drawn out,’’ he said.
“She’ll be on pace, especially if it is wet, and Grafton can be a bit of a leaderish track.’’
First and second in the Grafton Qualifier earn a spot in the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 6.