When you wake tomorrow (Friday time in Australia), some of your fellow die hard racing fans would have just watched another race meeting at the famed, and now controversial Churchill Downs, in Kentucky.
And in doing so they would have seen one of our own go round!
Aussie girl Crystal Conning, one of the tiniest jockeys on the planet, began her race riding career back in 2015 out in the Central West of NSW.
And it was no surprise to see her star immediately. Well before she had ever ridden a winner in a race, Conning was an Aussie representative at eventing.
“That was way back and my last eventing competition was back in 2013. I’m over here now and loving it.”
Conning rides Urban Diva for trainer Mark Hubley at Churchill Downs.
“It will be my 4th ride since moving to Kentucky,” she said. “I got beat a nostril on my first one.”
Conning has moved her 41kg body to the US for a fresh new start and to train and put on weight.
“I’ve had nearly 2 years off and had time to change things up. I’m working at Keeneland for trainer Rusty Arnold and really enjoying life again.
”Plus, I have put on some weight and am around 50kg now.”
Conning, who is 27, rode five winners in Australia before taking that time off. She came to the US last August and trainers are beginning to notice her.
Anyone who needs a reminder of how talented and gutsy she is on a horse, just need to look up a mare named Blinkin Elle who scored with her on board at Dubbo almost 3 years ago today.
The mare was a $19 chance and was near last on the wet track coming to the bend, but as others moved their mounts wide, Crystal drove her through along the fence like George Moore would have, and then sat down to ride her out.
Slowly but surely, with precision timing you’d expect from a Longines, she got that mare motivated and running hard. They got up by a nose.
She looked over as they passed the post to Leanne Henry who was on the leader that Crystal had just run down….and smiled.
“Yeah good memories,” she recalled.
“But I’m here now. And it’s a good spot.
“I went to the Kentucky Derby last week. Wow, pretty full on that protest but they were following their rules I guess.”
Conning is aware of the need to get winners early while over there and Urban Diva could be a great kick start. She is in race 2 on the card.
Female jockeys don’t get too many opportunities in the US, so a few winners is imperative.
“Don’t be impressed with me just yet. I need those winners. But I do appreciate the story.”
Given how good she is on the back of a horse, winners will happen and many will appreciate her.
Hopefully that all starts at the place of controversy tomorrow!
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