Three years ago Alice Lindsay was assessing loan applications while working in finance. Now the 24-year-old, who grew up in Ashton in the Adelaide Hills is about to have her first race ride at Gawler on Thursday.
Lindsay started riding horses when she was five years of age at the Mountain Pony Club in Mount Barker where she has been a member for most of her life. In her time there she was heavily involved in eventing and mounted games (a series of team based challenges aboard their ponies).
It was that first day at Pony Club nearly twenty years ago where Lindsay thought that life as a jockey could be for her.
“My first day at Pony Club, a friend and I decided to take off and race up a hill for a bit of fun! We got into trouble for it but I think from that little race back then, I always knew I wanted to be a jockey!”
Fast forward fifteen years and Lindsay was working in an office for GE Money when a change at work brought her to the racing industry.
“The branch I was working at was made redundant, so I was without a job and I thought it’s now or never if I want to have a crack at becoming a jockey.”
A chance meeting with Trevor Dansie saw her getting some work at Finniss Lodge, along with riding a few horses for Dansie as well.
“It was about three years ago I started out at Finniss Lodge, strapping and learning about racing up there. It gave me a great start in the industry.”
“Jamie Kah was doing some riding work up there as well when I was starting out. She gave me a great understanding about race riding and as we came from similar backgrounds in Pony Clubs it was really beneficial having her there at that time.”
Lindsay is now in the hands of leading Adelaide trainer Ryan Balfour who has been her master for around ten months.
“Ryan has been really supportive to me. I’m really lucky he has so many horses in his stable and he has so much racing knowledge that has been passed down from his father. He’s happy to answer all my questions and has just been fantastic.”
Balfour himself is glowing about Lindsay’s natural talent and dedication to her career.
“She has an excellent rapport with the horses and has a very good seat as a jockey. She’s such a hard worker and is really dedicated. She’s showing really good signs at the moment looks to have a bright future.”
Lindsay’s excellent seat aboard a horse can come down to a bit of timely advice early in her career.
“When I first started in the industry I was told to watch footage of Kayla Stra. How she takes her seat on a horse, she gets low and keeps the horses focus. It’s world class. Since she’s been back in Adelaide, she’s been so humble and approachable which has been amazing for me.”
While she may be a naturally talented rider, Lindsay has had her fair share of setbacks with seven broken bones last year including five broken ribs and two broken hands but she wouldn’t change it for the world.
“Riding horses is my favourite thing to do. I have a real love for horses and nothing compares to that adrenaline rush you get on the back of a horse. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junky!”
On Thursday, Lindsay will be the latest race rider produced by South Australia’s famous Apprentice Academy but she knows that the hard work is only just beginning.
“I have learnt a lot so far but still have even more to learn.”
“I know it’s a tough industry, but I have a real passion for what I do. You have to work really hard and be dedicated but I’ll do anything I can to be involved.”
Balfour agrees that hard work and dedication are the two factors that can make or break you in the industry.
“Those who work hard in our industry are the ones who shine and are successful. This is Alice’s dream and you can tell that she really wants this.”
While she is yet to debut in a race, she has her sights firmly set on becoming the best she can.
“I’d love to get the Apprentice Academy Dux one year and hopefully one day become a leading apprentice.”
While her first ride is set to be on Balfour’s Cool Maverick, the horse she’d most like to partner is her favourite horse from the Balfour stable, Street Embrace.
“He’s a really interesting character, he’s a cool little horse!”