TWO south-west riders have taken major steps towards jockey careers.
Warrnambool’s Lily Coombe and Orford’s Lorelle Crow were among 10 riders accepted in Racing Victoria’s apprentice jockey training program for 2013.
The group underwent a stringent selection process to gain entry into the four-year program.
Racing Victoria’s John Didham will work with the aspiring hoops.
Coombe, who is studying law at Deakin University, will work for leading Warrnambool jockey Matthew Williams, while Orford trainer Anne McGrath has given Crow an opportunity.
Coombe, 19, and Crow, 18, started their classes in Melbourne yesterday. They will spend three days each month in Melbourne.
Coombe, who has worked for Williams for 12 months since moving from Albury for university, said the Racing Victoria apprenticeship “meant a lot”.
“It is what I have wanted to do for five years now and it’s good to have an opportunity with Matthew Williams in Warrnambool,” she said.
Coombe said she was drawn to the sport when she was 14.
“There is no family history but my mum’s boyfriend owned a racehorse and I went to the track,” she said. “I was offered a job and never looked back.”
Crow’s interest in horse racing goes back three years when the then Warrnambool College student worked at a stable.
“I first started with a trainer in Warrnambool and my school arranged that I’d go to the stable two days a week,” she said.
“I was mucking out stables, taking the horses down to the beach for swims at the breakwater and then I started riding on the sand dunes.
“I eventually went to the races one day and strapped a horse and I fell in love with it straight away.”
Crow said she had worked with McGrath for two years and was eager to start her apprenticeship.
“I am really excited. I have been waiting for ages,” she said.