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Alice warms to Darwin riding stint

A yearning for career development has prompted jockey Alice Lindsay to swap the chilly South Australian winter for the warmer climes of Darwin.

This time next week Alice will be in the Top End starting what she hopes will be a year-long riding stint.

“I’ve never been to Darwin, so I hope I like it,” she joked.

“But I was actually looking at the weather on my app last night – just as I was putting my heater on. I thought, ‘Gee that sounds really nice, right about now’.”

The past week has been a whirlwind for the 27-year-old, who said a chance suggestion from a friend led to her contacting Darwin trainer Philip Cole on Monday about the possibility of relocating.

“He pretty much said yes on the spot and by the next day it had been organised that I was going to come up,” said Alice, who made the announcement – in typically good humour – to her riding colleagues at TRSA’s Apprentice Academy on Tuesday.

“It all happened in 24 hours, so I’ve now got to pack up my whole house and go. It’s happened quickly, but it’s exciting.”

Alice had her first race ride in 2017 and has since piloted 40 winners, enduring several injury interruptions. While she is nervous about literally heading into unknown territory, she hopes the move accelerates her professional growth by taking advantage of the relative lack of riders – particularly apprentices – in Darwin.

“It’s a little bit daunting, going somewhere I’ve never been, and somewhere I’ve never ridden, but I think it’ll be fantastic for my career,” she said.

“I think I’ll get better-quality opportunities. I think there are only seven or eight jockeys up there at the moment. I worked it out and I there’s around 30 in South Australia.

“I felt that if I didn’t grab it, someone else would go up there. And if it doesn’t work out I can always come home.”

Darwin is classed as provincial racing, meaning Alice will have ample chances to utilise her claim.

“I’m getting some rides here which is great, but it’s so hard and competitive,” she said.

“I went to Naracoorte for one ride (on Wednesday).

“I’m going on loan for a month, just to get up there and test the water, but the plan is to stay for 12 months, then come back.”

The timing of Alice’s move is ideal, given the rich Darwin Cup meeting is just weeks away.

“I’ve ridden 40 winners, but only nine are provincial, the rest are country,” she said.

“So I want to try to get that provincial number up. I’ll also be going down to Katherine and Alice Springs to ride too.

“I plan to ride in Darwin on July 22. That way I get a meeting in before cup day, so hopefully I can get some rides on cup day (on Monday, August 3).”

Alice has ridden in the Listed Balaklava Cup (“It’s a non-claiming race, so that was pretty cool”), but says winning the 2018 Port Augusta Cup on roughie Aldophin has been the highlight of her career to date.

Her bid to forge some new highlights will be boosted when a special friend joins her in Darwin.

“I’m going to bring my pony, Piccolo, up with me,” she said.

“I’ve had him for about 10 years and he’s my right-hand man, my little sidekick.

“After about a month I’m going to get him transported up, so it’ll be even better when Piccolo joins me.”

Alice thanked her current boss, Gawler-based trainer Darren Magro, for the opportunities he has given her over the stretch.

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