WHEN Rachel Hunt was a youngster growing up in New Zealand, she demanded her parents let her ride horses.
That passion she felt for horses as a child did not go away and the now 25-year-old is working as an apprentice jockey in Bathurst for trainer Paul Theobald.
“I have been riding my entire life but, no, no-one in my family rode,” Hunt said.
“Early on I just demanded I ride. I honestly think it is something you are born with.
“I don’t know why that is, but I have always wanted to work around horses.”
While born in California, Hunt grew up on New Zealand’s South Island before her passion for riding led her to Australian shores.
She lived in Sydney for five years before making the move to Bathurst some 12 months ago to continue her learning process as an apprentice jockey.
“I started my apprenticeship at Randwick, but I am out here now to get experience. As an apprentice jockey you need to get experience in the country first, so that is why I came out here,” she said.
“Next year I am moving to Canberra to work with a trainer down there; you have got to keep moving forward.
“But I enjoy living in Bathurst. It has been really good and we [Hunt and her boyfriend] like living in Bathurst.”
Hunt has continued to learn more about the racing industry during her time working at Theobald’s stables and on August 23, a member of the Bathurst trainer’s team helped her to the first win of her career.
It was a good ride as well as Hunt saluted with Mickey Spanooch as an $11 chance at Gilgandra over 800 metres.
“Winning my first race is something that stood out. It was one of Paul’s horses, which made it special, as all of his horses are like babies to me,” she said.
“It was with Mickey Spanooch and he passed away a little while after that, so that’s why he is that little bit more special to me.”
Hunt was also part of an historic meeting at Orange’s Towac Park where every horse at the Melbourne Cup day meeting was ridden by a female jockey.
She rode Battant Glory and Foxspectre to success for trainer Lee Van Den Bos and landed a second placing with Michael Mulholland-trained Hello Al at that meeting.
“That was a great day. I had two winners at that one [meeting],” Hunt said.
“It was interesting – it was unreal, actually with all the girls; it was like riding with friends.”
But while she has made friends during her time in the Central West, when it comes to race time she is just as competitive as more seasoned hoops.
It was a trait she showed at Dubbo earlier this month when she was able to get River Downs across from a wide barrier to find the front in the City Welding
Works Benchmark 60 Handicap (1,100 metres).
She rated the Churchill Downs x Kinder Girl mare to perfection to win the race, which also doubled as a heat of Racing NSW’s Rising Stars Series.
Another of those races will be staged at Tyers Park tomorrow as part of a seven-race Bathurst Thoroughbred Racing Club meeting.
“Those races are good, they help you get your name out there and that is the whole point of it,” Hunt said.
While she still has much to achieve in her career, the once little girl who demanded to ride has her heart set on staying around horses.
“I’d like to ride for as long as I possibly can. I don’t know if I’d want to be a trainer, but what I really want is a horse rescue centre,” she said.
“If I had everything my way I’d have a property and take in RSPCA cases.”
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