MORE TO COME: Jockey Jessica Greacen was thrilled to ride her first winner on Monday.
MORE TO COME: Jockey Jessica Greacen was thrilled to ride her first winner on Monday. BRUCE THOMAS

Apprentice jockey claims victory

JESSICA Greacen had to travel all the way to Murwillumbah races last Monday but the long drive was worth it for her first winning ride.

The Coffs Harbour apprentice jockey scored aboard Filconi for trainer Jim Jarvis, bringing to fruition a dream which began as a youngster riding to pony club.

“Everybody was asking when I’d ride my first winner and I’ve been desperate to get that one out of the way,” she said.

“Partly as I wanted to say ‘done it thank you’ and partly for my own confidence, to know that I can win a race.”

With the track a bog it was decided regular race partner John Keating would watch from the grandstand, with Greacen’s 4kg allowance reducing the weight substantially.

The rider readily admits she ‘horse whispers’ during races and had a long conversation with her mount as they ploughed together through the mud.

“Coming into the straight I had plenty of fuel and as we challenged D’Addario I said ‘OK, come on, let’s get past him’ and Filconi said to me ‘I don’t know little girl, this is pretty hard work ...’ but he kicked,” she revealed.

“Then I could hear Pipeliner coming out wide real fast and I was thinking ‘don’t you dare get us’ and kept saying ‘please, please, please keep going’ to Filconi and to my substantial relief, we hit the winning post first.”

Crossing the line in front for the first time may have been euphoria on a grand scale but nothing rivalled the feeling once she brought the horse to a halt and prepared to return to the mounting yard.

“Once I turned Filconi’s head around for home I began to get trickles of joy and pride,” Greacen said.

“As you walk your horse into the number one winner’s stall there are cheers and congratulations from everyone and all you can do is grin like an idiot and keep saying thank you.

“Jim Jarvis got a big hug for putting me on my first winner and John Keating got a big kiss for suggesting to Jim I ride Filconi.

“Actually, I kissed lots of cheeks and shook a lot of hands ... it was absolutely the best feeling.”

What makes Greacen unique is there are very few jockeys world-wide with a university qualification – now-retired British legend Richard Dunwoody is one exception – let alone one who has completed a degree in psychology as Jessica did before taking on a racing apprenticeship.

But riding that first winner made all the difference.

“It makes all the hard work worthwhile,” the jockey admitted.

“It is everything I thought it would be, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile and leaves you hungry for that next win.

“And yes, I am addicted.”

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