The next rising star of the South Australian riding ranks looks set to make her debut this weekend at Naracoorte in Race 6. Taylor Farrugia (TAB SA Apprentce Academy jockey), the 23 year old who grew up 30km West of Melbourne in a town called Rockbank has been given the green light to start race riding and will make the trip to the South East on Sunday.
Racing is in Farrugia’s blood. Her grandfather was a harness racing trainer and for as long as she can remember, she’s always been around or ridden horses.
Her involvement in the industry however, only came about later on after a car accident claimed the lives of both of her grandparents.
“I was extremely close with my grandparents and unfortunately they both passed away in a car accident together. Years ago my grandfather had bred a horse that was a bit awkward as a youngster, so after they passed away I wanted to bring ‘Blackie’ back into work as he was now a six-year-old and fully grown.”
“After I had him back in work I went to my Grandfather’s brother and asked him how I’d go about getting a trainers/drivers license and he told me I don’t want to be driver and I should become a jockey.”
After that conversation Farrugia, then 19 years-old, went home and made a few calls and eventually got into contact with Ballarat based trainer, Glen James and the rest is history.
“Glen told me to come out one morning and that very first morning I started riding, I’ve never looked back since. I knew from that moment this was the career I wanted to pursue.”
The next step for Farrugia was to get an apprenticeship and the driven youngster was willing to do whatever it took to have a crack at a career in the saddle.
“I knew if I was serious about wanting to chase this career I had to bite the bullet and do something different. Everyone knows South Australia has a great reputation for giving females a go, so I made the decision that an apprenticeship with a trainer here in SA would be in my best interest.
Farrugia landed at John Macmillan’s when she first arrived in South Australia. While she loved working for the popular trainer based out at Clayton Bay, being new to the industry and the state, she decided she needed to work with an on-course trainer so she could start to meet new trainers and ride more work. This led to her getting in contact with her current Master, Murray Bridge based Michael Hickmott.
“Michael has great patience as a trainer. He lets the horses mature and doesn’t push them to hard. I think that is a key thing to being a successful trainer.”
Along with her new Master, Farrugia is also picking the brains of one of her role models in Jamie Kah and also says that Nakita Beriman is another hoop she looks up to.
With a racing debut not too far away, she’ll be hoping to get a ride on her stable favourite Going Gaga (nicknamed Georgie Porgie) in the near future but is really just panning on working hard and doing what she can to be a top rider in the future.
“Within the next 12 months I hope I get the opportunity to kick off my career and just get as many opportunities on as many good horses as I possibly can. I’m extremely committed and determined to pursue my dreams of becoming a leading jockey here in SA.”