For Rebeka Prest, having a crack at the professional circuit after years at the picnics was about making the most of her obvious potential before it was too late.
The Wagga Wagga-based apprentice jockey racked up 80 wins over eight years as an amateur before being coaxed into the big time by Chris Heywood in 2014.
The move to the professional ranks was given a further push by the realisation she didn’t have all the time in the world to make her mark on the racing world.
“I thought, `I’m getting too old, I better try something’,” Prest told AAP.
“My weight was good and my boss at the time told me I probably should try and do it,” she said.
Although admitting to the occasional bout of fatigue, the heightened pressure and workload of constant professional racing has not diminished her love of the sport.
“It’s a hell of a lot busier than the picnics,” she said.
“I watch my weight a bit now but at the picnics I didn’t have to worry about it.”
“But I don’t think there’s anything else I’d want to do.”
The first two years of her professional career have been a challenge, and she acknowledges she has “good days and bad days”.
Prest makes a rare visit to Sydney for two rides at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
She will be on two-year-old gelding Briconi and three-year-old filly Just Stellar – both trained by Christopher Davies.
“Just Stellar – she’s got a lot of promise, but first up might be a bit of a tough ask,” she said.
“The two-year-old – he’s still quite immature.
“He just needs the race experience.”
Prest is happy in Wagga Wagga for the time being and is confident opportunities will continue to open up.
But she expresses a desire ride in more provincial races.
“It’s tough getting into the provincial scene,” she said.