Spotted: Vashka at Hawkesbury’s Family Fun Day!

Our Team Thoroughbred representatives had a great day at the Godolphin family fun day on Sunday, July 9. The Team Thoroughbred tent featured an equiscizer, which was a hit with the future generation. Kids lined up, put on some silks and had a turn riding in Corey Browns race saddle and riding the equiscizer. Our team also had the opportunity to speak to parents & careers about the industry and Thoroughbred welfare and re-training in NSW.

The highlight of the day was having the opportunity for families to meet our Bart’s Farm resident, Vashka and Para-dressage champion, Cruise at the stalls from 2pm. Both horses got lots of hugs and pats from fans of all ages.

It was a great day to showcase Team Thoroughbred NSW!


By Abby Delucyk

As someone passionate about giving horses a life of luxury after racing, Emma Cox took on 8yo Teddy through mutual friends of the family in the middle of COVID lockdowns. Little did she know that this horse would be crowned a winner in the 2023 Sydney Royal Easter Show and become her new best friend.

Regal Edition, now known as Teddy, is an 8yo Reliable Man X Cross Rate gelding who raced as Greenspan. Bred by Bradbury Park in New Zealand, he was brought to Australia as a two-year-old for the Proven Thoroughbreds syndication. He was introduced to racing at the iconic Royal Randwick by trainer John Thompson before being transferred to Goulburn under John Bateman and finally to Kembla Grange under the guidance of Kerry Parker.

Retired from racing only 18 months ago, Teddy has since pursued a career in showing and won the Inaugural Up & Coming Led Thoroughbred class for horses who have retired from racing within the last two years at the 2023 Sydney Royal Easter Show.

As winners, Emma said, “We did not expect it in the lead up to the show, long-term competitor, master horseman and our trainer at home, Stephen Gladstone, was leading Teddy, so I knew I did not have to worry about anything. My job that day was to prep the horse to look the part, Steve did the rest!”

Based in Centennial Park, the original showgrounds for Sydney Royal, Emma spends many hours a day ensuring that Teddy is as healthy and prepared as possible for each show, particularly the royals. “Preparation really begins twelve months before. The training, feeding, short spells and management of their day-to-day care is endless, but the feeling of riding at Sydney makes it all worth it.”

Teddy’s success did not end in the led classes. Emma rode him herself to finish 5th in the Novice Hack 15.2-16hh and 8th in the Lady’s Hack, an achievement for any horse, but particularly one so new to showing. “We went with the aim of being called in off the ring for a workout, so to leave placing amongst some beautiful and seasoned horses from across Australia was an amazing feeling.”

Teddy, named in tribute to Emma’s previous thoroughbred ‘Bear’, had stolen her heart after she accidentally stumbled upon him. “I spent ten months during COVID looking for a special horse to take on and show. We seemed to be having no luck when Bill Mitchell phoned and said he had a horse that had raced that day who may be suited for life as a show horse.”

Emma did not see any photos of him but drove to Kembla Grange the next day and picked him up. “The connection of my parents’ golfing friends, Peter and Meg Robinson, who owned some racehorses themselves, found him. When he arrived, he was fluffy and a little rough around the edges, but he settled in instantly, which was fantastic. I just had to cross my fingers and hope a special little horse was hiding underneath,” Emma said.

“Teddy loves to work. The harder it is or, the more interesting the trick, the more he gets into it. We do a lot of dressage and cross-training at home, and often our warmup at a show consists of the same. When the atmosphere at a show is unsettling for him, I will always go back to moving him off my leg, controlling the shoulder, and regaining his focus, something Steve has taught me for many years,” Emma said.

As Teddy has only been retired from the track for 18 months, he has a lot of potential and capacity to grow in the sport. “The plan is to continue to show Teddy as he is just such a pleasure. He makes it so easy, which is not always the case. Our next competition will be the Pacific Coast Hack Championships before a well-deserved spell to spend some time with our next horse.” Emma said.

We wish this duo good luck in all future competitions.

Emma and Teddy are proudly sponsored by Mickie Magan – Equine Herbalist and Body Worker

Photo Credit: Allira Fontana Photography

Hillier’s Taking The Racing Scene By Storm

By Abby Delucyk

“I was just a kid who loved horses and lived on a farm.”

Rising NSW Apprentice jockey Chelsea Hillier may be from a small rural country town, but she is making a big impact on the racing scene.

Growing up in rural Barraba, Hillier has been surrounded by horses her whole life.

“We have always had horses growing up as Dad is a jockey and mum loves to ride.”

Although Chelsea was an active member of Barraba Pony Club, she never competed in any specific discipline and simply enjoyed riding and being around horses.

Her passion for horses was forced to sit on the backburner as her family relocated to Glen Innes and went on to attend Fairholme College boarding school in Toowoomba.

It wasn’t until Chelsea finished school that she could invest her time into racing. Reuniting with her passion, Chelsea stayed in Queensland where she started on the ground with trainer Brian Smith.

Although Chelsea enjoyed this experience, she had a burning desire to learn to ride trackwork and decided to move back home to Glenn Innes to ignite this dream.

She picked up where she left off and started riding trackwork for local trainer Paddy Cunningham. It was here that Chelsea put in the hours to learn the ins and outs of riding.

“It was since riding trackwork that I always had in the back of my mind to become a jockey. I always was that little bit too heavy so I resigned to the fact I could never be a jockey,” Chelsea said.

Chelsea was on a roll with her riding practice before this came to an abrupt holt after she sustained a bad injury from a routine morning ride on a Coffs Harbour beach. This saw Chelsea sidelined for 12 months.

With this forced time off, Chelsea decided to relocate to Sydney. When covid hit, Hillier used this time to strip some weight and become a jockey for popular trainer, Mark Newnham.

“The weight aspect is really challenging part for me as I am not naturally a lightweight and need to stay on top of this. The mental side of being a jockey is also a challenge as you have to remember to stay true to yourself,” Chelsea said.

As the weight stayed off, Chelsea has continued to excel in her riding career and has since moved to Scone to ride on behalf of Rod Northam. A career highlight for Hillier was when she scored at Treble in front of a home crowd at Deepwater earlier this year.

“This was a pretty big achievement for myself considering I was so heavy and just the journey I took to get here. I really look up to Craig Williams as an inspiration for riding but also as the person he is. He really gives back to the sport, and I admire his kindness,” Chelsea said.

Paying tribute to her families’ support, Hillier mentions “I have been bought up in a way that nothing is easy, and you have to work hard for what you want. I would love to be able to ride in Sydney one day and just be the best rider I can be.”

With hard work being ingrained in Hillier’s DNA, it’s no surprise that she is an apprentice to watch this season.

Godolphin’s Golden Girl

By Abby Delucyk

If you told a young Amy Walker that she would be donning the iconic blue uniform and strapping ‘Exploring’ in the prestigious 2023 Golden Slipper, she would have thought you were lying.

Now, this is her reality.

Amy’s love for horses was ingrained into her from a young age through the influence of her mother, who spent her childhood surrounded by horses.

“My mum passed on this passion as she bought me my first horse when I was around 7 years old. She always said I would grow out of this obsession I had with riding and kept insisting it was just a hobby. Much to her dismay I was very persistent with it, and she ended up buying me a years’ worth of riding lessons to help me develop my skills,” Amy said.

It was at Mulgoa Pony Club that Amy learnt the fundamentals of riding and got up at the crack of dawn every Saturday to ride.

Amy strapping Exploring in the 2023 Longines Golden Slipper.

With Amy still well and truly invested in riding, she purchased her first off the track Thoroughbred in 2013, who was a 3yo 17hh gelding called ‘Ace’. This purchase kick started her ownership of horses, which has expanded to having 4 horses in her care now.  

As Amy grew up, her introduction into the racing industry came through her experience of working at a TAB call centre for 3 years when she was fresh out of school.

“It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do but I knew it was never in an office job and instead working with animals. I left TAB and worked in a dog shelter before I started at a dressage stable with Hannah & Heidi Scott in Glenorie,” Amy said.

Although Amy had returned to working with horses, she still didn’t feel like she was in the right job.

“I always remember driving past the Godolphin stables at Agnes Banks and dreaming of working there. I thought why not ask if they have a position available, so I gave them a call but wasn’t hopeful at all because I know how hard it is to work there,” Walker said.

To Amy’s surprise, Godolphin came calling the next day to organise an interview which sent her hopes skyrocketing. Within 72hrs from her original call, Amy was offered a racing hand job for Godolphin.

“Godolphin is just an all-round amazing place to work, and I’ve achieved a lot with them. I’ve been there for 4 years now and genuinely can’t fault it,” Amy said.

Within these 4 years, Amy’s favourite moment was in 2019 when she strapped her first winner, Vivaro at Hawkesbury, just a month after she started at the well-known stable.

Despite this, Amy mentions, “My favourite horse will always be Segalas as she was the first horse I looked after at Godolphin and strapped for 3 years.  

“I love being a stable hand and strapper, but I would eventually love to explore the possibility of being a Foreman one day and working up to this. The good thing with Godolphin is they always offer room for growth and the opportunities are endless.

“I found my dream job which not a lot of people can say,” Amy concluded.

McDonough’s Hunt For Glory

By Abby Delucyk

It’s not every day you hear that a 27yr old has made the decision to start her jockey apprenticeship. But for a determined Sarah McDonough, this career switch is a long time in the making.

After 12 years working in the horse racing industry, Sarah McDonough’s love of horses has transpired into a life-long career. Her sheer dedication has taken her to places she didn’t even was possible.

Originally from South Australia, Sarah doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t horseback. She grew up at Pony Club and on the equestrian scene with eventing being her main discipline.

Having competed since she was 9, McDonough accumulated an extensive trophy cabinet. She won the State Championships at every grade of Pony Club and represented South Australia twice at the Interschool National Championships in 2011 and 2012.

Her introduction to the racing industry came through a conversation she had with childhood friend and talented jockey, Jamie Kah. 

“I was 15 at the time when Jamie asked if I wanted a part time stable hand job at John MacMillan’s stable. I worked 3 days a week before school and occasionally help strap on Saturdays and Wednesday if I could get the time off school.

“After I finished school, I started working full time in the stables where I continued to strap regularly and learnt to ride track work,” McDonough said.

As Sarah unlocked a new passion with riding, she took the leap and booked her ticket to England where she worked for Australian trainer Jeremy Gask. “This was such a good experience as I learnt a different way of doing things and a different racing style.”

With international experience under her belt, Sarah returned to home soil where she went on to work for numerous trainers across Australia, including Tony McEvoy, all while completing University.

Sarah even had a stint in Alice Springs where she rode trackwork and worked part time as a Clerk of the Course throughout their Cup Carnival. “I really got serious about becoming an apprentice when I was in Alice Springs, but it was a little hard for me to complete my Certificate III up there”.

After leaving Alice Springs, Sarah found her way to Scone where she worked for Cameron Crockett for 18 months. Most would recognise Sarah as a regular face at the races strapping and then working as a Foreperson for Crockett for a short period until she resigned in May 2022.

“I did take great pride in taking a team of the horses to the races and representing the stable. But I came to Scone with the mission to be an apprentice and at the end of the day it is what I want to do, and I’ve always just done what everyone else wants me to,” Sarah said.

In a twist of fate, both McDonough and Gask have found their way to Scone and joined forces again in June 2022. “Jeremy is very good to work for as he has created a great, relaxed environment on the farm. I’m glad I have now been able to work for Jeremy all these years later as a much more mature person and rider.” she said.

Despite McDonough working on the ground for years, she always had a burning desire to hop in the saddle.

“It wasn’t until I learnt to ride trackwork that I decided I really wanted to ride but, didn’t quite believe I was good enough for it. Being an apprentice is something I have always wanted to do but haven’t gotten the opportunity until now.”

McDonough’s scratched this ‘itch’ to ride last year in November when she finally received her apprenticeship with her master, Jeremy, in which she says was “a long time coming.”

“Jeremy was the one that gave me a chance to start my apprenticeship as one day we were on the truck, and he bought up wanting an apprentice. I just remembering saying, “What about me?”,” Sarah said.

“I started my Certificate III when I first came to Scone but had to put it on hold for a while when things weren’t quite heading in the direction of being an apprentice jockey. I’m really thankful for Scott Thurlow and the team at the Team Thoroughbred NSW Training Academy for their patience throughout the journey and I wouldn’t have got to this point without the support.”

With 14 trials already under Sarah’s belt, she doesn’t only look up to Jamie Kah as the catalyst for her career but also as an inspiration in terms of riding. 

“I think every female jockey aspire to be like Jamie as she is the pinnacle. Watching the jockeys in Sydney is something you aspire to be like, but I also look up to local jockeys such as Aaron Bullock and Brooke Stower because we ride against them regularly,” Sarah said. Regardless of how McDonough performs in the saddle, her determination will always be her success as she preserves to pursue her dream of riding.

Patezza Now Content In Retirement

By Abby Delucyk

From Group 1 glory in Sydney’s Doncaster Mile to working in the NSW Mounted Police unit, it would be an understatement to say that 24yo Patezza has earned his retirement.  

Under the guidance of former late and great trainer Guy Walter, Patezza won eight races, including the 2005 edition of Randwick’s famous mile, and over $1.7 million in prizemoney. He retired from the track in 2007 to become a valuable member of the NSW Mounted Police unit. 

Jenny Cobb, who has been a police officer for 15 years, formed a life-long bond with the racing prodigy after she was assigned to ride him.

“Patezza and I always had a really good connection as there was only a few of us who could ride him. Patezza is a very dominating horse who has a fighting spirit,” Cobb said.

“He was a great Police horse and completed all aspects of Mounted Police duties. From protests to ceremonial jobs0. to community events, he didn’t mind posing for a photo or a pat from the public.”

Although his days on the racetrack are in the past, Patezza occasionally shows Jenny a glimmer of his racing spirit.

“On patrolling the streets in pairs, he always had to have his nose in front, just by an inch!! Patezza had this fight in him to be the best, and this showed at the 2013 Sydney Royal Easter Show in where we were the most successful troop horse and rider out of 16 Mounted Police Horses and Staff,” she said.

After serving seven years in the police force, it was decided by the NSW Mounted Police that it was the right time for Patezza to be retired. With Cobb being his main mount, she was granted the opportunity to take him into retirement when he now calls the scenic South Coast town of Milton home.  

Like most, retirement was a hard transition for Patezza.

“He became very flat and depressed-like. It was like he lost his sense of purpose as he loves to be around people and became very humanised in the force,” Jenny observed.

Despite this, Patezza has learnt to enjoy his time off and now looks forward to his daily trail rides in the State Forest and playing around in the arena.

“In the last year, he has made great mates with another retired Mounted Police horse who we have on our property and the two are now inseparable.

“It’s so nice that a horse that gave humans so much is now enjoying his life in retirement.”

Amanda’s Forging Her Own Way To Victory

By Abby Delucyk

From winning Off the Track series with her thoroughbred to establishing herself as a female trainer, racing is well and truly ingrained in Amanda Davis-William’s DNA. 

Leading the way for other females within the industry, Amanda is following in the footsteps of her mother, Tina Williams, who is a small Wyong based trainer by creating her own stable of winners. “Being a female and a small trainer in this industry is quite special as I get to prove that we are just as capable as men and are strong enough to do it without a man,” she said.

Davis’s passion for female inclusion in racing has been influenced by the strong females she is surrounded by. Such females include popular Wyong trainer, Kim Waugh, who Amanda is employed with full time as a Work Runner. “I really love working with Kim as she is always very good with giving advice and great to talk to. I really take in what she does and try to reflect it in my own training,” Amanda said.

Amanda riding Recife Beach at the Thoroughbred Spring Fair.

Amanda’s love for horses was established from a young age as she says she was “born straight into a saddle and was sitting on a horse before she could walk.” This passion intensified when she participated in Pony Clubs up until she was 15. During this time, she became captivated by the beauty of the show ring which led to her venturing into the show world. Through finding her talent in this discipline, Amanda grew her competition team by collecting off the track Thoroughbreds who helped her secure ribbon after ribbon at competitions around NSW. “I loved how showing was something mum and I could do together,” Davis said.

Having the luxury of witnessing her mother become a racehorse trainer, Amanda made the decision to transition from the showring to the racetrack. “I always dreamt of becoming a trainer but was always happy and content just riding trackwork. This all changed when I got badly injured 4 years ago which forced me to think hard about what I wanted to do in the future. It gave me the push needed to become a trainer,” Amanda said.

“It is pretty good to have a mom as a trainer as it provides me with a lot more encouragement and I think being a daughter of a female trainer is very important in this sport. We are very competitive so I want to beat her in races, but I also know I can turn to her if I need help or guidance,” Davis said.

Typically, some people may feel the pressure associated with following in a family member’s footsteps in the same industry, but Amanda admits she’s never experienced this. “I never felt that pressure with mum but instead look to her for advice. The best thing she ever told me was, if you want to keep a level head in the racing game you need to be realistic with where you are at with your training and prep.”

With this advice in the back of Amanda’s mind she made the leap and applied for her trainer’s license, which she received within 5 months. Just 2 weeks later, Amanda had her first taste of success when her horse, G’day Poopsie, ran first at Wellington in March 2021. This horse has continued to provide Amanda with success after running first at Taree in January of this year.

Amanda and Last Bid Liam

Balancing this, Davis also doesn’t sugar-coat the life of a trainer and instead shines light on the challenges that trainers face. “I think a big challenge is owners coming and going. As a small trainer starting from the ground up, it can be hard to attract big owners and gain connections within the industry,” she says.

Despite being a full-time trainer, Amanda is still very much active in the equestrian world. Her proudest achievement was when she was crowned Off the Track series winner at the Thoroughbred Spring Fair in 2021 on her OTTB, Recife Beach, who was formally trained by Kim Waugh.  

As Amanda’s life revolves around racing, organisation has become a top priority as her race day prep looks a little different to others. “I always get ready the day before, so I get all the gear and equipment packed and make sure to iron the silks. I then check the horses but as I have to work in the stables in the morning, I have to make the call early before scratching’s. It’s so busy that I usually don’t have time to stress and instead trust that the horses are ready,” she says.

Amanda’s dream would be to train a city winner but for the mean time she narrows her sights on having a stable with more than 20 horses in work. “I am also huge on rehoming and would love to be able to help make sure that when her horses retire, they get a good life after racing,” Amanda concludes.

Julia Presits’ International Dream

By Abby Delucyk

Moving ashore from Malmo, Sweden to Australia may have been a lifestyle change for apprentice jockey Julia Presits but her love for horses hasn’t wavered.

Ever since she was a young girl, Julia had an interest in horses and grew up riding equestrian by show jumping or eventing in her spare time.

With her love for horses established, Presits started riding in Sweden just for fun to help out a trainer and before she knew it, she had unlocked a passion.

After touching down in Australia, Presits debuted at the Gosford Picnics and started her Australian riding career with a bang by riding her first ever winner ‘Prospectors Helmet’ in the 1600m Class B handicap in November 2019.

“I have always loved horses and thought it would be fun to give it a go at the picnic races,” Presits said.

“It wasn’t until someone said that I was light enough to give riding professionally a go, that I really thought about it. The trainers at the picnics were joking that they needed a wheelbarrow when they picked up my saddles in the jockey room,” Presits said.

Although her riding career in Australia is recent Presits has previously had a successful riding career in Sweden, riding more than 80 race rides with 9 wins.  

Before her racing dreams took her internationally to the shores of Sydney, Julia also held a trainer’s license and trained 17 winners of both her own horses and her sisters.

“Naturally winning is the best part of being a jockey and one day I would love to ride like J Mac,” she said.

Now riding for Gary Portelli, Julia recognises that her favourite ride is when she won the benchmark 64 at Warwick Farm on Walkin’Talkin’ as this was her first metropolitan winner. Presits will look to continue her successful association with Walkin’Talkin’ tonight in Race 8 at Canterbury Park.

“I think the biggest challenge of being a jockey is getting a go and a chance to ride. It’s like any sport and if you don’t ride winners, it can become challenging.

“Someone once told me that it’s 87% about the horse in a race and only 13% the jockey which means if your horse is not good enough, it’s not always easy to win,” Julia mentions.

With previous experience of training back home in Sweden, Julia would like to resume training racehorses one day but not before she gives being a jockey a good shot.

“I want to be a jockey first before I become a trainer as I think you understand racing better if you ride first before training,” Julia said.

As her name is becoming recognisable, Julia sets her sights high with her goal to ride at Royal Randwick in the future.

Anna’s Hot Seat In The Saddle

By Abby Delucyk

With even the slightest knowledge about the racing industry, anyone would have heard of the apprentice jockey taking the world by storm, Anna Roper.

From riding six winners over three days to riding more winners in NSW than any other jockey at the start of 2022, this young jockey’s life has taken an unexpected turn.

“Ever since I can remember I have ridden horses, as my older sisters and Mum always rode so I learnt a lot from them,” Roper said.

“I got my first pony when I was four called ‘Willow’ and he was super naughty and always dropped me, but we learnt a lot together.”

From Mangrove Mountain Pony Club where Anna grew up riding, she went on to learn dressage for some time before moving to show riding where she competed in high-level competitions.

“I had an awesome horse called ‘FBI’ who was a superstar and I could do all disciplines with him.”

After some time in the saddle, Anna moved on from dressage to eventing where she found her calling. Her dedication to eventing led her to win the National Inter School Championships in 2019, the State Inter School Title, and the Australian Youth Dressage Championships in 2016.

It wasn’t until a good friend of Anna’s parents offered her a position to ride trackwork for Greg McFarlane at Gosford in the school holidays, that a 16-year-old Anna was introduced into the racing industry.

The school holidays turned into weekends and before she knew it, she was riding before and after school. The same progression happened with her riding.

“It started as a slow canter which then went into a fast gallop and then a jump out. I remember my first jump out on a retired thoroughbred called ‘Sweat ball’ which was very interesting,” Anna described.

With her dream to get into a Vet Science course at University, Anna decided to set aside riding for six months while she focused on completing her HSC. After this year was done, she returned to riding by starting trackwork for Tracey Bartley in Wyong in the hopes of making some extra cash for Uni.

“I always thought about becoming a jockey but just thought I was too heavy and would never make the weight as an apprentice. It was always a dream idea but nothing I thought seriously about.

“Tracey was the one that encouraged me to try it as I started to lose weight while trackwork riding so I gave it a go. It’s been pretty insane since then,” Roper said.

The door opened and before she knew it, Anna discovered her new talent.

She started to turn heads early in the 2022/23 season when she began her apprenticeship and on her initial race ride at Gundagai, she rode her first winner.

“The first couple days of this season has to be a highlight as they put me at the top of the jockey premiership – above J-Mac which was pretty awesome!”

With her success on the rise, Anna’s schedule is a lot more booked than the average 20-year-old by traveling across NSW to ride six days a week as well as getting up at 3am to work in the stables each day.

“Someone I look up to as a mentor is Rachel King as she is so professional and is doing really well as a female in the metropolitan region. She is also super helpful by being more than willing to watch a race replay with me.

“There aren’t that many things I dislike about being jockey because I love it so much. It’s become such a passion that it doesn’t feel like your normal work,” Roper said.

As Anna continues to ride winners, she sets her sights on being successful in the metropolitan region as an apprentice.

“I’ll see how long my body holds up while riding but it would be incredible to win an Everest or Melbourne Cup one day.”

Racing Sparks Emily’s Interest

By Abby Delucyk 

From being an assistant Foreperson for Brad Widdup, to earning ribbons in show jumping and educating herself on equine welfare, Emily Spark is well and truly invested in the Racing world. 

It wasn’t until she was 14 that Emily first experienced being horseback, commencing her equestrian journey on trail rides in the scenic Glenworth Valley. With this passion ablaze Emily went on to become a guide for trail riding for Glenworth Valley Riding Adventures, using this as an opportunity to develop her skills. From there, she started to really invest her time and energy into riding after moving to Sydney, taking up lessons at Centennial Park Riding School with riding legend Darren Phillips to develop her skills in jumping and flat work. Her first competition came at 18 at a Camden One Day Event with this time taken allowing her to finish high school and embark on her university degree. 

“I have given most disciplines a go. I competed in dressage competitions around Cobbitty and then won ribbons in show jumping comps, but I always had an interest in Eventing. I love the high energy of all the 3 phases such as the technical aspect of dressage and the thrill of cross country.” 

Axel at the Sydney One Day Event. Credit: Elegant Exposures

Emily’s education doesn’t just stop at a university degree, with her completing an equestrian coaching certificate through the mentorship of renowned dressage rider, Pip Cooper. Having this degree allowed Emily to pursue a job as a riding coach for a riding school in Terry Hills, as well as working for a high-performance show jumping team for numerous years. 

Being an off the track Thoroughbred enthusiast Emily currently owns 2 thoroughbreds; 11yo gelding, Woodgrove Mountain, who she has had for 4 years, and recently retired gelding, North Atlantic, formerly trained by Brad Widdup. “Woodgrove Mountain (AKA Axel) was still super green when I got him, coming straight from the racecourse to retiring. My other horse North Atlantic is still super young and needed to go to a good home as he trialled but was considered too slow to race.” Emily aims to start North Atlantic’s retraining process next year, pursuing the path of a show hack or dressage mount. 

In terms of riding success, Emily looks beyond the ribbons and titles. “My biggest achievement would be learning how to be a good and compassionate rider. I think it comes down to setting expectations for your horse but being patient about meeting them. I also have become more educated about retraining and equine physio and nutrition which has developed my understanding of horses.” 

Shibumi Equestrian Centre first training day with Axel. Credit: Rodney photography

However, in 2019 Emily encountered a nasty injury being thrown off whilst show jumping. With her confidence rattled she started to doubt her own coaching and riding skills, taking a step back in her progress. “It made me question if riding was something I still wanted to do, but I proved myself wrong by getting back on a horse.” 

After her return to riding Emily decided she wanted an opportunity to develop and grow, reaching out to trainer Brad Widdup via email with her resume attached. Recognising Emily’s passion and experience, Brad responded and organised an interview with her where she ultimately received the job as a stable hand for his racing stable in Hawkesbury. “I’m never one to turn down an opportunity and I originally heard about Brad’s stable and loved his attitude and what they were doing there.” 

The transition from being a stablehand to an assistant foreperson came gradually for Spark. “I took more of an interest in going to trials and race meetings as well as taking up more responsibility in the stables. The acting Foreperson left and the current one recommended I step up as she recognised my passion as well as Brad’s wife approaching me to say she has noticed how dedicated I am and offered me the position of assistant foreperson.” 

Good Omens at Brad Widdup Racing. Credit: Ruby McIntyre

With this new progression, Emily now is entrusted with the responsibility of going to race meetings and trials to track the horses’ progression, maintaining the stable when the foreperson is away and teaching new stablehands the ropes. 

This new responsibility in her career has forced Emily to manage her time between her own retraining efforts and riding, having the gap in the middle of the day to go home and work with her own thoroughbreds. 

“It has been tricky with race meetings and trials but when I get a weekend off, I try to fit a competition in. It is handy living so close to the stables and having my horses on my property, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! It’s my lifestyle. 

“I’m not ready to move on from Brad yet as I still have a lot to learn and want to see what more I can do. In the future, I would love to go overseas and work for an international trainer just to get a different perspective, but then come home and get back into equine therapy and physio. A dream of mine is to open my own centre for off the track Thoroughbreds and rehoming as many as I can.”

Sydney International Equestrian Centre One day event. Credit: Ozshotz