It has been a decade since Kathy O’Hara won the Sydney apprentices’ premiership.
Thanks to some jockeys’ room camaraderie and Winona Costin’s flying start to the new racing season, O’Hara could be an influential figure in another title.
Costin is an early frontrunner in the apprentices’ race and O’Hara will be there every step of the way.
They will even share a Group One moment at Randwick on Saturday when they ride in the $400,000 Spring Champion Stakes.
“Usually it’s just me and Kathy in the girls’ jockey room, and she’s more than happy to help if I have any questions,” Costin said.
O’Hara is one of just four Australian women to win at Group One level, taking out the 2012 Coolmore Classic on Ofcourseican.
She also became the only female jockey to win a Sydney riders title when she claimed the 2004-2005 Sydney apprentices premiership.
“Hopefully I can follow in her steps and win myself,” Costin said.
“At the start of the season I thought I had no hope, but I’ve really kicked a few nice goals lately so I don’t see why I wouldn’t be right in the mix.”
Costin will be on the Lee Curtis-trained Press Report in the Spring Champion while O’Hara rides Drum Roll for David Vandyke in the last Group One race of the Sydney spring carnival.
The 19-year-old Costin, who is indentured to Gai Waterhouse credits O’Hara for helping change trainer attitudes to female riders.
“Kathy sort of set a pathway for all of us,” said Costin.
“She’s proven to a lot of trainers that girls are just as good as boys. They’re more inclined to put you on their horses now.”
Just as influential for the apprentice has been Waterhouse, who gave Costin her big break eight months ago and has set her a gruelling training regime ever since.
But the fourth-generation rider says the long hours don’t feel like work.
Waterhouse also made sure the teenager scrubbed up to look the part.
“She’s big on appearance,” said Costin.
“When I first moved up I had quite bad acne, and she went through all the products under the sun to clear that up … she’s sent me to the hairdresser a few times.”