RACING STRONG: Trainer Thomas Steindl with Apache Gulf and Logan Wondrock, jockey Gemma Steele, Betty Murray and Janette Steendyk at the Gladstone Turf Club after winning the 1000m CQP QtIS Maiden Plate race.
RACING STRONG: Trainer Thomas Steindl with Apache Gulf and Logan Wondrock, jockey Gemma Steele, Betty Murray and Janette Steendyk at the Gladstone Turf Club after winning the 1000m CQP QtIS Maiden Plate race. STRONG IMAGES PHOTOGRAPHY

Apprentice jockey gets ticks for dedication and enthusiasm

RACING: On the score of dedication and enthusiasm, Cunnamulla apprentice jockey Gemma Steele gets top marks.

Fledgling hoop Steele is in racing for the long haul and literally so.

Tomorrow at Bluff races in the Central Highlands, Steele, 18, has three race rides at only her third appearance at her chosen career.

She will ride Billie Blue Gum and Naripsa for trainer Angela Stephens as well as Emotionally Yours for Rockhampton trainer Geoff Elliott.

The Cunnamulla lass, apprenticed to former country jockey Robert McMaster made her riding debut at Emerald on February 9.

While she did not ride a winner from her three mounts there, that came about at Gladstone races last Saturday when Gemma won the Maiden Handicap (1000m) on Apache Gulf.

"Winning this race is a lovely surprise. It was a 14 hours drive to get to Gladstone but winning makes it worthwhile," Gemma admitted after dismounting from Apache Gulf.

From her Cunnamulla base, the round trip to Gladstone amounted to 2100km.

For journeywoman rider Steele, to and from Bluff amounts to a pushover as it will only entail driving 1650km.

Which means that in her first fortnight of race riding, Gemma Steele will have road trekked 5210km to get her career galloping.

Considering some jockeys have been known not even to drive a few kilometres to ride track work, Gemma Steele's efforts are inspiring.

The Bluff race meeting has attracted a worthy response from trainers as well, with horses coming from as far afield as Longreach; Gladstone and Rockhampton.

Ironically, at Eagle Farm races in Brisbane tomorrow there will also be a strong link to Bluff racing in the form of smart mare Divine City.

Raced by Bluff's Ron and Val Beak, Divine City will contest the Fillies and Mares Class 6 Plate (1500m) and will be ridden by top Brisbane jockey Michael Cahill.

The Garnett Taylor- trained Divine City looks well suited and a win would not surprise.

The name Beak has been associated with racing in Bluff for generations.

Premier Rockhampton and Mackay jockey Adrian Coome has his first metropolitan ride tomorrow for trainer Stuart Kendrick since they relocated to the Sunshine Coast.

The successful combination will be represented by Impala which is engaged in the BM 80 Handicap (1000m) at Eagle Farm.



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