Gemma has ridden everywhere except proverbial Timbuktu
CUNNAMULLA-based apprentice jockey Gemma Steele will continue her extraordinarily successful treks to country race meetings on Saturday when she makes the 20-hour, 1900km round trip drive to ride at Thangool.
Steele, 19, is taking the country racing circuit by storm having ridden 47 winners at 45 meetings since starting riding in February last year.
Such a feat in less than a year by an apprentice against wily bush jockeys is something very special.
With a demeanour and modus operandi very much in line with the politically corrected axiom "you can take the girl out of the country, but not the country out of the girl", Gemma has ridden just about everywhere except the proverbial Timbuktu.
"The long drives don't worry me as I am used to it growing up in the country and travelling," Gemma said.
"Mum usually makes the trips with me for company. I'll go anywhere to ride a winner," she said after another victory on Northern Shift at Gladstone last Saturday.
True to her word, the talented Steele, who has ridden two trebles and a host of doubles on her predominantly Saturday-only country riding sojourns, has clocked up about 70,000km in the past 11 months.
Since that first memorable first win on Apache Gulf at Gladstone on February 16 last year, Gemma's list of places where she has ridden winners would fit in neatly with the lyrics of Lucky Starr's 1962 song, I've Been Everywhere.
Indeed the country lass has ridden just about everywhere.
She has bobbed up on winners at Blackall, Charleville, Longreach, Augathella, Aramac, Noorama, Cunnamulla, Quilpie, Barcaldine, Alpha, Tambo, Muttaburra, Roma and Julia Creek.
Julia Creek involved an 11-hour, 1165km drive from Cunnamulla over some trying roads encompassing.
While the teenager rates winning the Charleville jockeys and apprentice premierships last year with eight winners was a proud achievement, Gemma lists the Noorama Cup win last April as her most memorable.
"I always wanted to win that race as it is my local home town Cup just over the back of the paddock really," she said.
For Gemma the mere 150km drive from her Cunnamulla base at trainer Robert McMaster's stables, compared to the hike to Thangool would probably feel like a drive around the paddock.
On Saturday, Gemma Steele will be having her first day riding at Thangool but she has previously visited the Ford Park racecourse there.
With bumper entries totalling 62 horses for the five-race card, it won't be a surprise if she has a full book of rides.
That being the case it is likely that Gemma will stretch her freakish winning tally which will be the springboard for her leap into provincial race riding.
"I've been granted a licence to ride at the provincial tracks, but am waiting for the right offers to start off at those tracks", she said.
Central Queensland trainers take note: Gemma Steele is itching to add successes at Rockhampton's Callaghan Park racecourse to her CV.
Her 3kg claiming allowance is a huge lure for connections.