Jockey scores $14K win at just third day of race riding

It’s an oldie but a Goldie “all good things come to those who wait” which sits comfortably with Rockhampton apprentice jockey Alisha Donald, 22.

At Bowen races last Saturday, Alisha’s long trail into the winner’s circle was completed when at just her third day of race riding, she won the $14K feature race, the Whitsunday Cup (1470m) on Annmarie.

“It’s a great feeling to finally get that monkey off my back. So special and really the feeling is too hard to explain. Just awesome,” is how Alisha described the occasion.

The win came about at Alisha’s seventh race ride after making her debut in race silks when third on Jink and Jive at Home Hill races a fortnight earlier.

While Alisha has given that monkey the flick, she is the first to admit that her quest to become licenced to ride in races has been a long time coming.

A Gympie girl with both parents’ former jockeys who were reluctant to see her follow in their footsteps because of the harsh reality of jockeying, Alisha nevertheless forged ahead.

“I moved to Rockhampton when I was 18. I originally came up here to do university studies and become indentured as an apprentice at the same time. I rode trackwork at Callaghan Park and worked with some trainers to attain my goal of becoming an apprentice jockey. I realised I wasn’t mentally mature enough for that to happen but I kept riding track work. Since signing up more recently with Tim Cook it has become a reality and I am committed and now mature enough to really make a go of it (jockeying),” Alisha forthrightly admitted.

Rockhampton trainer Tim Cook has a fine record as a mentor for apprentice jockeys commencing with Donna Carrigg, Carly-Mae Pye, Zoe White and Lachlan Dodds.

All became leading apprentice riders during their terms with Cook. It’s a point that Alisha recognises but which Cook struggles to explain.

“I really don’t know but I suppose young apprentices are like young horses in so many ways as both have to be educated about racing. I like to pick and choose what they ride and won’t allow them to have managers,” Cook said.

“That way I know exactly what is going on and I can look after them.”

Cook is also a believer in getting his apprentices to seek the assistance and advice of leading jockeys they ride with at the track.

“I like them to get different opinions especially from the jockeys as after all I am only a trainer. Also, I like them to spread their wings and get out and ride for other trainers at track work. After all they are apprenticed to ride not just clean out horse boxes,” he said.

Cook concurred with Alisha Donald by stating he believed apprentices had to be mentally mature to ride and cope with the rigours of their profession.

“They have to work hard and I have told them all that the racing industry is there for them but you have to want to make the most of it. I suppose they have to have that bit of killer instinct in them and Alisha is showing that now,” he said.

As for Alisha’s parents, they are as proud as punch for her after Saturday’s win.

This Saturday, Alisha Donald will journey out to Moranbah races where she has a full book of rides.

It was a splendid weekend for Rockhampton apprentice jockeys with Cody Collis riding winners at Barcaldine and Injune as well as Tahlia Fenlon at the latter venue.

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