Ace young jockey Tegan Harrison finishes up her apprenticeship at the end of the month and would love nothing more than to celebrate a win in Thursday’s 2014 Grafton Cup with Brave Ali before entering the world of senior riding.
It’s been four years since Harrison, who left nursing studies to follow in the footsteps of her mother Beverly Want who was also once a jockey, moved from Grafton to Brisbane to pursue her dream of riding.
She’s really come into her own over this past season riding some genuine turf stars for up-and-coming Brisbane horseman Tony Gollan, in line to end Rob Heathcote’s five year stranglehold over the Brisbane Trainer’s Premiership at the end of the month.
While her credits just this winter include a second in both the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 and Stradbroke Handicap aboard Temple Of Boom, a Listed win in the $150,000 GDSC Grafton Cup (2350m) this Thursday would rate more highly.
The old adage that every jockey would love to win their hometown cup is certainly true in this case, Harrison getting that chance when she jumps aboard Gollan’s rising eight-year-old O’Reilly gelding Brave Ali.
“Obviously it’s my hometown cup. It doesn’t matter where it is but for any jockey to win their hometown cup is very special,” Harrison, 25, told The Daily Examiner.
“It would be a dream of mine come true.
“I was really excited when my boss’s horse Warrior Within won the Grafton Cup (2011).
“To win one myself as a rider would be out of this world.
“It would be a win like no other.”
She’s been on their back throughout their latest prep producing four wins and a third from five starts.
The galloper was transferred from the care of Craig Martin, brother of the horse’s inaugural trainer Tim, earlier this season and has been in flying form since.
Backing up from a recent third to Pretty Pins in the Group 3 Chairman’s Handicap (2000m) at Doomben, Brave Ali won the Listed Ipswich Cup (2150m) with Harrison aboard two back.
She missed their latest run however, a second to Brayroan in the Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m), due to suspension with Jim Byrne her replacement.
Harrison then is super keen to reunite with Brave Ali, a horse she’s made a very nice connection to.
“It will be great to be back on Brave Ali,” she said. “I like the horse.
“I’m sure Tony will have him right on the day, ready to rock and roll in the Grafton Cup.”
Also keen to have Harrison back on is part-owner Jim Dedes, secretary-manger to the Armidale Jockey Club.
“We can’t wait,” Dedes said.
“So far it’s been an unbelievable ride for all of us to go as far as we have.
“Having Tegan back on him will be great. She really knows the horse.
“She’s probably more excited than all of us being a Grafton girl.
“We’ve been trying to win a Grafton Cup for two years. Now we have a realistic chance.
“The plan this year has always been the Grafton Cup. We took a bit of a detour to Brisbane along the way but it’s been an unbelievable ride.
“When we first got into the horse two years ago we wanted to win an Armidale Cup and a Grafton Cup.
“We’ve had two goes at the Armidale Cup without success but we’re hoping for better luck at Grafton.”
If they get that luck Dedes knows much of the credit belongs to the horse’s former trainer Martin who had them in his care at Tamworth before their move in April.
“A lot of the credit must go to Craig,” Dedes said.
“It was Craig who decided to leave the horse with Tony.
“Tony admits he was in perfect nick when he got him but he’s put his own polish on the horse.
“He’s grown an extra leg since he’s been in Brisbane.
“Tony, the weather and better training tracks have played their part. The horse has hoof troubles with bruised feet. The better tracks up there (Brisbane) have really helped.
“We’re living the racing dream at the moment.”
While they certainly look one of the form gallopers in the capacity Grafton Cup field this year, Brave Ali faces a tough line-up of fellow stayers.
Among them are the reigning Grafton Cup champ Mr O’Ceirin, two Gai Waterhouse-trained hopes, in-form Chairman’s Handicap winner Pretty Pins and four for Chris Waller including his recent Winter Cup winner Secessio.
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