As the excitement builds ahead of champion Black Caviar’s comeback in Melbourne, a little-known Queensland country apprentice will be hoping to make a mark in her debut metropolitan ride at Eagle Farm.
Brooke Richardson did not hold a metropolitan jockey’s licence when central Queensland trainer Todd Austin asked the 17-year-old a few weeks ago to ride Group One placegetter Playtime in Saturday’s Airasia.com Handicap (1200m).
Playtime was named Racing Queensland’s Regional and Queensland Two-Year-Old of the Year last season after finishing second to Hot Snitzel in the Group Two Sires’ Produce Stakes and third to Benfica in the Group One TJ Smith at Eagle Farm in June.
Richardson is a daughter of Toowoomba trainer Brendan Richardson but began her indentures with her grandfather Clem Pollard, another Toowoomba trainer, before going on loan to Austin at Barcaldine.
Richardson has been licensed for only 14 months but already has ridden 65 winners on Queensland country tracks.
“I’m not nervous but I’ve been very excited since I first found out a few weeks ago I’d be riding Playtime in town,” Richardson said.
“At the time I didn’t even hold a city licence but we made a few phones calls to Racing Queensland and soon got it.”
Richardson was never a great scholar at Toowoomba’s Darling Downs Christian College but always knew with her racing pedigree that she’d become a jockey.
Like most young female riders, Richardson spent most of her early years riding at pony clubs and doing camp drafting.
“I’ve only had a jockey’s licence for 14 months but I’ve been riding horses since I was five,” Richardson said.
“I did pony clubs right up until I was 16 then I started to work around racehorses with Grandad and then with Dad.”
Richardson admits she was never a great student and only stayed at school for sport before she left during Grade 10 to work around the family stables.
For one so young, Richardson has already set herself a big goal.
“I want to go right to the top if I can,” she said.
“I finish my loan period with Todd (Austin) at the end of the month and I’ll continue to ride around Toowoomba for another year or so before I hope to go to town.
“But I want to go further than just Brisbane.”
Richardson doesn’t model herself on any particular rider but is a fan of Hugh Bowman and Corey Brown while she admires her female counterparts Clare Lindop and Kathy O’Hara.
“Everyone has their own style but there are bits and pieces you take from other riders,” she said.