The Great Southern racing scene has been hit with girl power, with four young female apprentice jockeys hoping to make their mark this season.
Natasha Faithfull, Jenae Grigsby, Tayla Stone and Casey Hunter will all call Albany home as they lead a female jockey invasion.
Faithfull and Grigsby are both fully fledged apprentice jockeys and rode in Sunday’s opening race meet of the Albany Racing Club season at Percy Spencer Racecourse, while Stone and Hunter have to pass their race trials before being able to ride in races.
Faithfull has enjoyed a terrific run of form during the past 12 months, and since the 2012-13 season began has ridden six metro and nine provincial winners. The 19-year-old is a leading contender for the Great Southern leading apprentice title this year under local trainer Steve Wolfe’s guidance.
Faithfull rode two winners and two seconds in the recent Albany trials before scoring an impressive winning double at Ascot last Wednesday for Wolfe.
She backed that up with another winning double for Wolfe from her five rides on Sunday, riding Miss Legacy to victory in 1200m Apec Woodchip Sprint, and guiding Nigel’s Gold home in the 1200m Mt Barker Chicken Sprint.
Grigsby will be part of Paul Hunter’s team for the opening three months of the season while she is on loan from leading Ascot trainer Neville Parnham.
The 18-year-old has four career victories to her name, the most recent aboard Striking Guru in Northam, which was her first winner for Parnham.
Stone, 17, has recently transferred her apprenticeship from her father Darryl’s Perth stables and is now based in Albany full-time with Wolfe where she will be aiming to race ride later in the season.
Hunter is working for her father Paul as she continues to make her way back from a broken ankle which forced her to return to Albany from her aunty Maria’s Lark Hill stable.
The injury had Hunter on the sidelines for 14 weeks and the 18-year-old has only just returned to track-riding this week but is aiming to get to trials by February as she slowly works back into fitness.