Apprentice jockey Courtney Barnes rides Knightonthetown at
White Robe Lodge at north Taieri yesterday. Photo by
Melbourne Cup Day at Wingatui is another opportunity for
diminutive Courtney Barnes to enhance her reputation.
The 18-year-old apprentice jockey has made a promising start
to her career, with 13 wins from 135 rides. She has eight
rides at today's meeting.
Barnes is quietly confident of doing well in the opening race
on Knightonthetown. The gelding has had one win from 23
starts but has improved with two second placings this month.
Barnes rode her first winner (Cheap Date) in March, shortly
after accepting her apprenticeship with Brian and Shane
Anderton at White Robe Lodge.
Her grandfather, Mick Didham, rode his first winner in 1945,
and her great-grandfather, Arthur, was also an accomplished
Barnes had not planned on following her relatives into the
sport despite her love of horses.
"When I was younger, I didn't think I wanted to be a jockey.
"But I did some work during the school holidays and it kind
of happened from there, really."
Her mother was not impressed.
"You fall off riding around the track during training,
sometimes, but I haven't had a bad fall."
Barnes got a "wee bit nervous" before a race, "but once I'm
on the horse, I sort of forget about it".
Melbourne Cup Day at Wingatui should be fun, but the teenager
would like to ride in the Melbourne Cup proper one day. More
immediately, though, she is chasing the title of top
apprentice jockey in the South Island.