School’s back as the TAB South Australian Apprentice Academy welcomed five new riders to their ranks this year. The next Jamie Kah or Jake Toeroek could very well be in the next batch of hopefuls who range from 17 to 25 years of age and come from all over the state and one even from Hong Kong.
We took some time out to find out a bit more about these next superstars of the saddle.
The elder statesman of the group is Andrew Biggs, the 25 year old who is based at Murray Bridge under the tutelage of the experienced John Hickmott. This is his second crack at a career in the saddle after first starting his apprenticeship back in 2016. Biggs stepped away from the sport after a few years but is now back and more determined than ever to have a long career in racing.
He believes his biggest strength is his “desire to achieve at the highest level and use what I missed out on over two and half years off as motivation to stay focused and achieve my best.” Being a late comer to the sport doesn’t faze Biggs who feels the life experience on his side will help him achieve his goals of becoming a fine jockey just like his riding hero Jason Holder.
The girl from Moana Beach lists Stephanie Thornton and Kayla Crowther as her riding role models. Annells is taking it all step by step and is looking at building some solid foundations so she can give herself the best chance when she gets out on the track.
“I took up riding lessons at the age of 13 but then I took a different direction and started a farriery and blacksmith course.” After that she started riding and couldn’t quite get her break in the track riding circles until her new boss, Gordon Richards approached her to see if she had any interest in becoming a rider.
It’s the confidence from Richards that is driving Annells to give this new career a real go and believes her “understanding of the horses and patience” will be one of the key drivers of success in the future.
The other new girl on the racing scene is 21 year-old Libby Halliday. Born and bred in the South East, Halliday first started in the industry undertaking six months work experience with Sue Jaench as a 17 year-old and after her first gallop, fell in love with racing. After taking up trackwork at Millicent, she then moved to Mount Gambier where Michael O’Leary offered her an apprenticeship.
Halliday is looking to “give it her all and enjoy the journey” and with a hero like Emily Finnegan, she’s got the perfect role model. “Her style of racing and attitude towards the sport is something I love,” and if Halliday can be as half as good as Finnegan, she’s going to have a pretty good career for herself.
He might be the youngster of the group at the tender age of 17 but it seems like Lachlan Neindorf has been around the traps for years. The new apprentice to the Richard & Chantelle Jolly yard got into the industry through his uncle, SAJC trackwork supervisor ‘Banjo’ Patterson. The natural lightweight is hoping to be a competitive city class jockey and potentially ride in Melbourne one day.
“I’m dedicated and keen and willing to learn.” says young Neindorf, who one day hopes to emulate the success of his idol Hugh Bowman. At such a young age, if he can keep his head down and working hard the sky’s the limit for Neindorf, especially under such a great trainer like Richard Jolly.
Last but definitely not least is our latest Hong Kong import, Jerry Chau. He’s only been in the country for about a month but the 18 year-old has landed at the in-form Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas stable. Chau is planning on a two year stay here in Adelaide and like lots of our Hong Kong visitors, comes with a lot of experience with three years’ experience as an apprentice back in his home country. “I want to ride well out here as I feel it’s more challenging and the less consistent tracks require better understanding and experience.”
He’ll fit in right away in the SA riding ranks, naming Aussie star Zac Purton as his hero should get him a few credits in the bank with his new peers. His motto is to “never give up and to keep on trying to improve” and if he can do that he’ll go a long way and who knows, even emulate some of the success of his countryman Matthew Poon when he was over here.