By Ray Hickson
With just over a month remaining as an apprentice, Courtney Van Der Werf is well aware of the need to "get a roll on".
But it’s something she’s working hard on achieving as opposed to actively worrying about.
That’s because the 24-year-old, whose lone ride at Rosehill on Saturday is King Darci in the final event, returned to the racing industry back in January after a two year break wanting to be a jockey.
“My apprenticeship was ruined a little bit with where my headspace was prior to that break,’’ Van Der Werf said.
“I wasn’t getting anywhere and you need to get a roll on so when you come out of your time you are going well.
“I’m happy I’m back riding. I’m more serious about it, I suppose before my break I wasn’t.’’
A couple of city wins on the Paul Perry-trained Salerno in June and July gave her an important kick-along.
But Van Der Werf getting the call up to ride King Darci in the Show Some Betiquette Handicap (1300m) is no coincidence.
She’s ridden the gelding at three of his last five starts and it’s just reward for the work she’s putting in riding trackwork twice a week for trainer Tim Martin.
“I ride work for a few different trainers to try and get some opportunities,’’ she said.
“It definitely helps but Tim has been really good to me since I’ve been riding work there. He’s been giving me a go.
“I don’t ride King Darci work. From what I’ve heard he’s not very nice to ride work, they are pretty good to me by not putting me on him.’’
What’s different this time, and a fact that has Van Der Werf quietly confident, is she’s riding King Darci a lot further along in his preparation than she’s used to.
Part of the reason would be his "other" regular jockey Adam Hyeronimus is riding in Melbourne and part because she earned it.
“I’ve only ridden him first-up or when he’s been freshened up so the distances I’ve ridden him over haven’t really suited him,’’ she said.
“The 1300m or 1400m is more his go so hopefully fingers crossed it will be my day.
“Tim’s horses always race well, King Darci has a good record and is pretty honest so I’m confident.”
King Darci is a $4.20 second favourite following a close third behind Improvement and Collateral over 1400m at Randwick last month.
King Darci runs third at Randwick - October 21
From barrier one Van Der Werf expects to be in a prominent position throughout.
“With a good barrier, he goes forward and I think he should be in the finish somewhere,’’ she said.
“Dreamforce will probably go forward but I don’t think I will have to work too hard to kick up and hold my spot. He has enough barrier speed to naturally put himself there.’’
With a month remaining on her apprenticeship Van Der Werf has given the future plenty of thought.
"I get quite a few rides out in the country at the moment without my claim so I am assuming that is where I will end up,'' she said.