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National Apprentice Race Series

Posted by TRNT

Date posted:

FOR the first time in almost nine years, Northern Territory apprentice jockeys will be involved in the National Apprentice Race Series (NARS), with the first two legs of this year’s series to be held at Fannie Bay on 4 March.


When the series first came into existence over a dozen years ago, there was an invited apprentice race run on Alice Springs Cup Day in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014, when the Territory had a good number of apprentices in the system.


The last time the series heat was run in the Red Centre, in 2014, it was won by NT apprentice Kate Brooks – in 2010, the late Simone Montgomerie rode the winner, while in 2012 the late Mel Tyndall finished second. The following year, Top End apprentices Alana Brown and Felicia Bergstrand finished second and third respectively.


With a recent influx of apprentices in the Territory – there are now five young apprentice jockeys based in Darwin and Alice Springs – Thoroughbred Racing NT was approached to again participate in the series.


There are now two races per day on the selected racedays in the Northern Territory (Darwin), Western Australia (Belmont), Tasmania (Hobart), South Australia (Strathalbyn), Queensland (Eagle Farm) and Victoria (Sandown) during the months of March and April.


Five visiting apprentices will join the Territory’s Dakota-Lee Gillett in the two races on Saturday, and depending on the size of the fields for the two series races (Benchmark 54 1200m and Class 2 1100m), it is hoped that fellow NT apprentices Jade Hampson, Emma Lines, Ianish Luximon and Lek Maloney may also gain rides, although only Gillett will earn points which go towards the overall state/territory winner.


Luximon, apprenticed to Kevin Lamprecht in Alice Springs, will represent the Territory at both Belmont (15 March) and Strathalbyn (22 March), while Hampson, indentured to Tayarn Halter in the Top End, will be the Territory’s representative at Eagle Farm (29 March) and Sandown on 19 April.


Unfortunately, a Territory apprentice will be unable to compete at Hobart, as the series legs there are held on Sunday 19 March, the same weekend as the St Patrick’s Cup feature meetings in both Darwin and Alice Springs.


Thoroughbred NT Chief Executive Andrew O’Toole said: “It is great that the NT is again involved in the National Apprentice Series. The experience gained by our young riders during the series is invaluable, and riding against different opposition on a variety of tracks is fantastic for the young riders’ development.”


The six apprentices who will compete for points in the two Darwin legs are as follows:


Northern Territory

DAKOTA-LEE GILLETT (17), 3kg claim


Born and bred in Alice Springs, Dakota-Lee is the daughter of former jockey and now leading trainer Terry, and Leanne, herself a top trainer. Dakota-Lee had her first day's riding in Alice Springs on 17 July 2022, and has six wins to her credit, the first of them coming aboard Hard Work Rewards in Alice Springs on 20 August. She rode a winner on her first day's riding in Darwin on New Year's Eve, and has just reduced her apprentice claim to 3kg. Her most recent win came aboard Nordic Lass at Alice Springs on 11 February. She can ride at 52kg.



SOPHIE WILCOCK (27), 3kg claim


Sophie is originally from the Top End, where she attended Taminmin College. She rode her first winner, Blinkin Dancing, at Inverell in October 2018, and is on the verge of a milestone 50th career win. Nowadays based in Roma, Sophie has only recently resumed race riding after a break due to weight issues. She has worked hard to make a successful return and rode a winner at her first day back in the saddle. She recently won her local Cup at Roma aboard Nick The Skip and has also obtained her provincial license in Queensland. She is apprenticed to Scott Rodgers.


South Australia

JADE DOYLE (24), 3kg claim


Jade is an Alice Springs native who, after travelling to Newmarket in the United Kingdom to work for 12 months,  then spent a period of time in Melbourne before beginning her career as a jockey in South Australia in 2021. Jade is a quiet achiever and has already made a number of trips to ride in her home town of Alice Springs. Jade rode her first winner, Oakfield Geronimo, at Kangaroo Island in January 2022, and has 18 wins to her credit so far. Her most recent winner came at Naracoorte in mid-February, and she can ride at 51.5kg.



BROOKE HANHAM (20), 3kg claim


Brooke commenced race riding late in 2022, and has already ridden six winners, her first coming on Warica at Launceston on 23 November. The same horse provided her with a second career win a couple of weeks later on the same track. Her biggest success to date came aboard Miami Sun in a $75,000 feature three-year-old race at Hobart during the Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival. Due to the conditions of the race, Brooke was unable to claim her apprentice allowance, making the feat all the more noteworthy. She is apprenticed to leading trainer John Blacker at Longford, and her minimum riding weight is 52kg.



MATTHEW CHADWICK (24), 2kg claim


Matthew is apprenticed to leading Victorian trainers Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr. He began his career with a winner, Drone Strike, at Kilmore in February 2022 and his second win, aboard the same horse, came just over a week later at Ararat. He has since enjoyed good success, and has 25 wins to his credit to date. His last winner came courtesy of Euphemia at Wodonga on 17 February. This will be Matthew's first experience of riding in the Territory, although he has a half-dozen wins on synthetic tracks in Victoria. His minimum riding weight is 52kg.


Western Australia

CASSEY MARTINAN (24), 3kg claim


Cassey won the apprentice trainee of the year award in WA for 2021/22 through her hard work at dedication to the Apprentice Program. Apprenticed to Stephen Miller, she has to date ridden 46 winners in just over 12 months with a license, including a metropolitan success aboard Irritable Rodnee at Ascot in March last year, which was in fact her first winner. She has ridden with good success on the country circuit, and also has a couple of wins at the provincials. Her most recent winner came aboard Lucrative Lucy at Mount Barker on 19 February this year. She can ride at 51kg.

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