Gray takes little time to kick start apprentice career

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Apprentice jockey Jessica Gray rode her maiden winner at Junction Race Club on Saturday.
Camera IconApprentice jockey Jessica Gray rode her maiden winner at Junction Race Club on Saturday. Credit: Sharon Smith

The latest apprentice jockey to come from the Great Southern, Jessica Gray, has taken little time to get her career going after riding her maiden winner just 14 days since making an impressive debut in the saddle at Carnarvon.

Originally from Tenterden, Gray completed schooling in Albany before she started work in the industry spending time as a track-work rider for Peter Western, Steve Wolfe and Paul Hunter.

Gray had her first ride in trials back in November 2015 and then made her race riding debut in Carnarvon earlier this month where she almost scored a win in her first ever race.

The 21-year-old was aboard Scotsdale which lost the opening race on the Carnarvon card by a nose, ending a fairytale start to her riding career, and later that day also had a third-place finish.

Gray rode two more thirds — this time in Broome on Broome Cup day before she broke through for her first win at Junction Race Club last Saturday.

Jessica Gray with one of her favourite horses, Paradise Square at Belmont Park.
Camera IconJessica Gray with one of her favourite horses, Paradise Square at Belmont Park. Credit: The West Australian

Partnering with the Jacqueline Henderson-trained The Express in race 2, they won the Westrac Handicap (1400m) by a head.

It was a terrific day for Gray who also rode two seconds and a third at the Junction meeting.

“I was so happy to win after coming so close in my first race,” she said.

“I’ve got a very competitive nature but I was mainly just trying to get around safely in my first race because everyone said it was so different to trials.

“Had I won that first race it would have probably come too easy so to run second meant I really wanted it.”

With a normal weight of 52kg, Gray is indentured to Ben and Dan Pearce in Karnup and said her aim was to keep improving and work through her 4kg claim.

“I’m trying to be realistic in my ability, but I’m happy to keep learning in the bush to prepare me for the midweek and provincials,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better stable, they’ve been super to me.”

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