FORMER Brauer College student Dakotah Keane credits top Warrnambool trainer Symon Wilde for kick-starting her career in horse racing.
Keane, 19, is in her first year as an apprentice jockey with leading Mornington trainer Tony Noonan.
She is thankful for Wilde's support and advice in her formative years in the sport.
"Symon played a big part in me getting involved in racing," Keane told The Standard.
"I would have been 15 years old when I first started going to Symon's stables.
"He taught me all the basics about horses, riding horses around the farm and mucking out boxes.
"I used to strap horses for Symon at local race meetings. All the people from Symon's were really great, especially Liam and Ashley Hoy. They were always offering support if I had any questions.
"I just loved horses and wanted to follow that career path as a track-work rider so I joined Tony's stables three years ago."
Keane, who grew up in Koroit, said boxing had played a big part in her fitness as she chased her dream to be an apprentice jockey.
"Boxing has really helped my fitness to be a jockey," she said.
"The boxing keeps my weight down and helps my aerobic fitness.
"I got knocked back the first time I tried to join the elite apprentice program but that was the right decision as I was probably not right to take it up."
Keane said she was embracing the opportunity as an apprentice jockey.
"They gave the all-clear for me to join earlier this year. I'm really loving going to apprentice school and being shown the skills by former jockeys Darren Gauci and Alf Matthews," she said.
"They were both champion jockeys and help all the apprentices.
"There's a great team of young apprentice jockeys coming through the training ranks.
"It's a big commitment being involved in racing whether you're a trainer, jockey, trackwork rider or strapper.
"I'm usually at the stables at 4.30am each morning to ride work.
"I've ridden in more than 100 jump-outs and a few trials but I've got to ride in more trials before I'm allowed to ride in races."
Tony's son - talented jockey Jake Noonan - has been there to help assist Keane with her riding.
"Jake has been amazing," she said.
"He's a top jockey in his own right but he's there to help me out He's always giving advice which I really appreciate."
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