Eleven aspiring jockeys will be welcomed into Racing Victoria’s (RV) Apprentice Jockey Training Program (AJTP) at Moonee Valley Racecourse on Monday night ahead of their four-year apprenticeship to become senior riders.
Women and men compete equally in racing and the class of 2024 includes one man and 10 women as follows (their masters in brackets):
• Brittany Button (Gerald Egan) – 24 years old
• Nadia Daniels (Pat Carey) – 18 years old
• Sage Duric (Phillip Stokes) – 21 years old
• Olivia East (Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr) – 22 years old
• Stephanie Hateley (Anthony and Sam Freedman) – 28 years old
• Samantha Kennedy-Roessling (Matt Laurie) – 20 years old
• Ruby Lamont (Michael Kent) – 21 years old
• Eliza Lloyd (Luke Oliver) – 23 years old
• Chris Pang (Leon and Troy Corstens) – 28 years old
• Hayley Spitse (Ben, JD and Will Hayes) – 21 years old
• Zoe Waller (Julien Welsh) – 18 years old
The group represent the largest AJTP intake since 2015 and the inductees have proven themselves capable riders through the extensive application process.
Picture Racing Victoria
Sage Duric (pictured with two time Melbourne Cup competitor Daqiansweet Junior) is looking to follow in the footsteps of her parents Storm and Vlad, who both had successful careers in the saddle. Vlad won the Caulfield Cup on Master O’Reilly in 2007.
“Both Mum and Dad went through Racing Victoria’s prestigious program, so to be chosen by RV and given the opportunity to do the same makes me feel extremely honoured and lucky that I get to live out my dream,” Duric said.
“Dad is obviously my father first but he’s also my best friend and to have somebody to share this passion with is like no other. Dad’s success speaks for itself in both Australia and Singapore, so I feel a little bit of pressure there, but I think pressure can be a good thing.”
Samantha Kennedy-Roessling has no family connections to racing but fell in love with horses via an unbroken yearling Shetland pony and the movie Racing Stripes – which features an abandoned zebra who grows up believing he is a racehorse.
“I played Racing Stripes on repeat as a kid, memorising it word for word whilst pretending to be in the Kentucky Open. Afterwards I would go outside and do hot laps on my Shetland thinking she was going to grow into a racehorse – that’s definitely where the passion started,” Kennedy-Roessling said.
“I’ve always wanted to do a job I was passionate about alongside an animal that I adore. Not to mention I’m also a crazy competitive thrill-seeker who just so happened to not have grown overly tall.”
The 11 budding hoops will be expertly guided by RV’s Apprentice Jockey Coaches Darren Gauci and Alf Matthews, both renowned former jockeys in Australia and overseas.
In addition to Gauci and Matthews, specialist service providers and industry experts will develop the apprentices’ knowledge and skills across a range of areas including equine welfare, performance analysis, personal wellbeing, nutrition, physiotherapy, media, finance and business management.
Monday night's event at The Valley will also feature the graduation of four apprentices from the AJTP program who began their journey in 2020. They are:
• Tianni Chapman
• Bailey Kinninmont
• Hannah Le Blanc
• Makisha Salter
RV Chief Executive, Andrew Jones, said: “We are delighted to welcome this talented group of aspiring jockeys and to celebrate the achievements of our four graduating apprentices.
“Victorian racing is world-class and so is our Apprentice Jockey Training Program. They will be coached by riding legends, mentored by master trainers and supported by the best professionals in the business.
“We wish all the inductees the very best of luck as they embark upon on this adventure and look forward to their contributions to the Victorian racing industry in the years ahead.
“We congratulate our graduating class of 2024 and wish them every success on the racetrack.”