Track Work Tuesday – Track Work at Meydan, Dubai

At 5am sharp the international racehorses spilled onto Meydan racecourse for their daily exercise on the track ahead of their big weekend racing.

Music Magnate (NZ), trained by Bjorn Baker (Warwick Farm, Sydney) was one of the first horses on the track. The bay gelding was quickly settled into a relaxed canter by his rider, Sydney apprentice Jean Van Overmeire, as they set away working in perfect harmony under the piercing flood lights.

Bjorn Baker

Jean Van Overmeire

Music Magnate (NZ),

Racehorses from all over the world, including the striking grey X Y JET (USA) and the solid chestnut Mind Your Biscuits (USA), who are both due to race in the 2,000,000USD Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on Saturday, graced the track.

As the sun rose, a string of locally trained horses stretched their legs.

The official clerks of the course and their trusty ponies watched over the track to ensure everything ran like clockwork.

At 7am the last of the international horses were ridden. Gunnevera, who didn’t have the easiest start to life being an orphan foal at just ten days old, powered around the track. The Kentucky bred chestnut has already won the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes as a two year old and the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park during his three year old season, earning a total of $2,927,200 so far.



Poet’s Word (IRE) and his rider Chas Robertson for Sir Michael Stoute (Newmarket, England) headed back home all smiles after their mornings work. Poet’s Word is to be ridden by multiple group 1 winning jockey, Lanfranco Dettori in the $6,000,000 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.

Poet’s Word (IRE) and his rider Chas Robertson

Track work came to an end as TV crews wrapped up interviews and staff sipped the last of their coffee. Meydan racecourse is truly stunning and we can’t thank our lucky stars enough that we have been lucky enough to pay it a visit.

Words by Kiersten Duke
Chief Editor – Sharon Lenton


Track Work Tuesday in Dubai – ERA 2018 Hit Sale

While guzzling water we swiftly walked into the shade to ease our bodies from the 34 degree Dubai sun at the ERA 2018 Horses In Training Sale that took place at Meydan on Tuesday 27th March.

The sale had a local feel to it, much different to the reserved feel of Tattersalls in Newmarket or the organised, modern Magic Millions in the Gold Coast that we all know and love. Despite these differences the vibe in the auction ring remained the same, buzzing, while the crowd hung on every last word the auctioneer chimed.

Lot 18A was the sales topper of the day, consigned by Mr D Watson and purchased by Mr Hamid Radan for sum of 525,000DHS. This bay 2013 horse, Galvanzie (USA), was sent from the United States to Ireland in 2014. He has a total of four wins and has earned $128,399 (USA) in prize money.

Lot 54, First Down (USA), was one of the better sales of the day, selling for a total of 110,000DHS. Consigned by Mr A Al Rayhi, this 2012 bay horse has previously won a total of $89,215 (USA) in prize money and has finished in the top three places 6 times.

The second best sale of the day was lot 60, Le Bernardino (USA), who sold for 220,000DHS. Having previously won the Al Maktoum Challenge (Group 2) last year, this dark bay or brown horse was purchased by Mr Zalim Kashirgou as a stallion prospect in Russia.

As the sun sizzled down we decided to call it a day, our first experience of the sales in Dubai certainly won’t be our last!


Words by Kiersten Duke
Chief Editor – Sharon Lenton

Track Talk Tuesday – Presenter and tipster makes stand against jockey abuse

Hot Topic  – Well known Sky Racing presenter and tipster for the Herald Sun, Nick Quinn took to Twitter on Saturday 25th February in the defence of a jockey who was directly targeted through a nasty direct message via social media.

Quinn took to Twitter on Saturday night to expose the ‘flog’ and express his sympathy for jockey’s having to ‘cop this rubbish’.

 “I feel for riders having to cop this rubbish. Yelling over the fence is one thing but abusive Facebook messages is a disgrace. The only funny thing is that the rider he sent it to didn’t even have a ride in the race. Sums up the flogs intelligence. Oh, and the horse was 100/1” Quinn said on Twitter.

The move to expose the culprit gained many responses from others on Twitter with some choosing to support Quinn’s opinion and others not so much.

Have your say, what do you think should be done about social media abuse from the public to jockeys?


Have your say, what do you think should be done about social media abuse from the public to jockeys?


Words by Kiersten Duke

Track Talk Tuesday – The Amazing Vikki Cannon – Where it all begins

This is a unique article this week.  This will be the first time we showcase a story but this story will be updated after Sunday 11 March with more tales to tell.

Today I want to talk briefly about an amazing woman – Vikki Cannon.

Vikki is our guest speaker at our up and coming event therefore we can’t give too much away right now but we will update this article after we hear her whole story at our Autumn Racing Fashion Luncheon.

Speak Fondly at home this year

Vikki’s Story

With nearly 40 years experience in the Thoroughbred Industry, Vikki Cannon has delivered over 3000 foals, and quite a few of these  have turned out to be Champions of the Turf.

Leading Speak Fondly back to scale after winning the Flight Stake

To know Vikki, you know that this woman is a hands on horsewoman, especially at this time of year when it is full swing into the preparation of the yearlings to get them ready for the sales and the breakers.

The year 2017 would have to be a year that Vikki will always remember.  To be acknowledged by your peers is always something we all aspire to.  One award that acknowledges outstanding achievements in the racing industry is the prestigious Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards.  This award was  initiated by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation in 2005 and is held in 4 countries:  Britain, Ireland, USA and Australia.  With 6 categories, each with a cash prize of $10,000 and trophy, Vikki was crowned in her category as the winner for her dedication to breeding.

Vikki has worked in the wonderful Thoroughbred nursery at Gooree Stud in Mudgee for 35 years, and is still madly in love with her job.  Vikki states “I love my job with almost as much passion as I have for my horses”.

With Queen of the Hill & High Chaparrel filly

Congratulations to Vikki Cannon on her outstanding contribution to the racing industry. We can’t wait to update this article after we hear more about her life and her tales with our beloved thoroughbreds.

Words by Sharon Lenton 
Photos complimentary from Vikki Cannon

Track Talk Tuesday – Ex Racehorses The New Stars at Magic Millions Barrier Draw

Monday 4th January 2018 – It was an excited and slightly anxious Maddie Hudson as she bathed and braided her two ex racehorses, Sonny (whom never made it to the races) and Royal (Glonass, previously trained by Gold Coast trainer, Michael Costa) in preparation for the notorious beach gallop at the Magic Millions barrier draw the following day.

“My friend Holly, who organises the ponies for the races, asked me if I’d like my two boys to take part in the event. They’re both quiet and well behaved so I thought I’d give it a shot. Neither of them disappointed, they didn’t put a foot wrong all day!” said Maddie.

At 3.10am sharp the next day, Maddie, along with her two immaculate looking ponies, were picked up from their paddock and driven to the Surfers Paradise Foreshore where the event would take place.

“We got there around 4.30am so the horses could all have a look around the beach. There were 15 horses all up, 12 of which were ex racehorses.” explained Maddie.

Royal (Glonass) and Noel Callow greeting the crowd

The first beach gallop kicked off at 6.15am, shortly followed by a Magic Millions Q&A and then the Queens Baton Relay at 7.15am.

Multiple group 1 winning jockey, Hugh Bowman, parading the Queens baton

The champion jockeys were introduced to the crowd at 7.45am. The familiar faces and legends of the turf included:

Hugh Bowman- Jockey to Winx and 79 time group 1 winner.

Corey Brown- Two time winning Melbourne Cup jockey.

Tye Angland- 9 group 1 wins to his name, including the recent Spring Champion Stakes on David Payne trained gelding, Ace High.

Brenton Avdulla- 5 group 1 wins at just the age of 26.

Jason Collett- 24% winning strike rate and 538 career wins.

Jamie Kah- Earning over $11,924,460 in prize money at just the age of 22.

Kathy O’Hara- Two time winning group 1 jockey.

Katelyn Mallyon- Winner of the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley in 2017.

Jordan Childs- 324 career wins at just the age of 21.

Winona Costin- Sydney based, female jockey earning $8,917,739 in prize money.

Noel Callow- Notorious for his quick witted interviews and 5 group 1 wins.

Kathy O’Hara riding Sonny along side Katelyn Mallyon

“The jockeys (O’Hara and Callow) both loved my horses and didn’t say a bad word about them.” Maddie proudly beamed.

Noel Callow and Royal (Glonass)

At 8.35am the horses paraded for the third and final time of the morning.

“Both my ponies are 4 year olds, recently off the track. They behaved like champions- I felt like a proud mum!” said Maddie. “The jockeys were so kind to them and looked after them both.”

The barrier draw for the $2million Magic Millions 2yo Classic happened at 9am. The results were:

1. Jonker (3)
2. Ef Troop (18)
3. Quackerjack (19)
4. Legislation (7)
5. Fullazaboot (21) – (2nd in the Magic Millions Race)
6. Crockett (10)
7. Bondi (20)
8. Skyray (8)
9. Meryl (5)
10. Secret Lady (11)
11. Sunlight (15) – (WINS the 2018 Magic Millions Race)
12. Nomothaj (2)
13. Outback Barbie (6) – (3rd in the Magic Millions Race)
14. Anthemoessa (4)
15. Witherspoon (12)
16. Whiskey Shooter (9)
17. Paquirri (17)
18. Terminology (14)
19. Spirit’s Pride (1)
20. Sugar Sizzle (16)
21. Catastrophic (13)

Brenton Avdulla and his ride having fun in the surf

The morning came to a close at around 9am and the smiles on everyone’s faces summed it up. A great event that’s looked forward to every year by all involved, after getting a little more involved this year we are certainly looking forward to the rest of the carnival!

With thanks to Maddie Hudson for all the behind the scenes info and to Ashlea Brennan for allowing us to use her photos.


Words by Kiersten Duke 
Photography by Ashelea Brennan 
Chief Editor Sharon Lenton

Track Talk Tuesday – Jean Van Overmeire’s Day on a Plate

Standing at 5ft 6” Jean Van Overmeire finds himself exploring new eating habits and diets to maintain his minimum riding weight of 54kg’s. We followed Jean around for a day to get a glimpse of what his daily nutritional intake looks like and why he’s chosen this healthy lifestyle to keep his weight down.

At 2.15am Jean’s alarm sounds. The first thing Jean consumes in a day is either a black coffee or a homemade smoothie before heading off to ride track work at Warwick Farm for his boss Bjorn Baker.

“Starting work so early in the morning requires caffeine” jokes Van Overmeire. “I usually have a long black to ensure I’m not consuming any more calories than required or I’ll make a smoothie as soon as I wake up which consists of kale, frozen berries, flaxseed meal, almond milk, chia seeds and dates.”

“After track work I’ll come home and have a couple of tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter with unrefined coconut oil. Doesn’t sound great I know, but it’s full of good fats and protein.  I try my best to always go for organic, non processed foods to keep my body as clean as possible” explains Van Overmeire.  “Then, depending on where I’m riding that day I’ll go and work out at our local park.  Sometimes if I’m riding far away I won’t have time to do this.  I usually work out for around an hour mixing between interval sprints, jogging, push ups and pull ups.  It’s important I don’t gain muscle and instead just maintain my strength because muscle weighs a lot.”


Van Overmeire explains, “Depending on how light I’m riding, how hot it is on the day and how hard I’ve worked during track work depends on how much water I drink before race riding.”

“I might grab a long black on the way to the races and I keep a pot of raw almond nuts in my car. It helps me resist stopping at servos or fast food places while I’m on the road.”

“When I first started race riding I found it hard to resist all the sandwiches and homemade cookies and cakes in the jock’s room but now it’s second nature and I don’t even glance in that direction. I snack on fruit throughout the day to keep my energy levels up.”

“When I’m riding far away from home I’ll take brown rice and fish or cauliflower rice and fish with me for dinner after the races that I’ve prepared earlier on in the week or at weekends. I’ve found cauliflower rice is a great replacement for white rice or even brown and black rice because it’s so low in carbs and it keeps me feeling light.”

“If I’m riding in the metro area I’ll drive home and have dinner there. Dinner is often lentil patties and salad, a vegetarian chilli made with quorn mince or fish with brown/black rice and quinoa.  I’ve cut all meat out from my diet because I find it makes me bloated and heavy.  I’m not missing the protein thanks to the amount of veggies, nuts, beans and quorn meat I consume.”

Vegetarian satay chicken skewers with green beans and brown rice


Vegetarian chilli

Grilled fish salad

“I’m only human so I do get sweet cravings, especially when I’m feeling tired. Luckily my auntie, uncle and partner all save me by often baking vegan treats for me.” Says Jean.

Coconut and cacao protein balls



Vegan carrot cake- minus the icing!

“I’d say that one of the hardest things when I started having to watch my weight was cutting out socialising. It’s near enough impossible to go to a social event or meet up with friends and avoid bad food or drink.  I don’t miss going out on weekends and drinking alcohol but sometimes I miss going out for dinner with friends and family.  I try and plan quality time with my partner or having dinner with my family on evenings where I’m just riding trials the next day or I have a day free from riding completely.  Those days don’t come around too often at the moment but we make it work so it’s not all bad!”

The early starts usually see Jean getting into bed at around 7.30pm most nights when he’s riding in the metro area. He told us that when he was riding in the country he often survived off just a few hours sleep most nights of the week before getting up and doing it all over again.

There’s no doubting Van Overmeire’s dedication to his sport, the young hoop is extremely educated on his health and fitness and with the amount of winners he’s riding, it seems to be paying off!

We wish him all the success with his future and can’t thank him enough for his time.

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Words by Kiersten Duke 

Track Talk Tuesday – Unsung hero – Claudia Ried

Darren Weir, Robbie Griffiths, Michael Hawkes and James Cummings, are just a few of the top trainers Claudia Ried has worked for in the industry. Despite only working with racehorses for the past five years, Claudia has managed to learn and gain experience from some of the best in Australian racing- and there’s no stopping her now!

Claudia and Gai Waterhouse

Hey Claudia! Firstly, who do you work for and what do you do?

Hey! I currently work at Godolphin located at Osbourne Park in Agnes Banks, Sydney. I’m one of the pony riders there, as well as a stablehand and strapper.

How many years have you worked in the industry?

I’ve been working in the racing industry coming up to five years now. I’ve been very fortunate to work for some of the best trainers in Australia.

Have you got any career highlights?

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had my career highlight just yet, I’d like to think there’s a lot more install for my future. Saying that, one of my favourite moments while working in the industry would definitely be travelling abroad to Chicago, America and meeting the incredible people over there, including training family Dale and Denise Bennett which was an opportunity I wouldn’t of had without one of Chicago’s very talented leading jockey’s, Chris Emigh.

Claudia at Arlington International in Chicago with jockey Chris Emigh

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

Favourite thing about my job is definitely working with the horses, whether it’s riding them, taking them to the races or even just grooming them. They really do give you that sense of peace.

What do you think needs to be changed within the industry?

In general terms Australian wide, I know how hard it is for people to achieve that work/personal life balance. It should definitely be compulsory to have one full day off a week.

Who is your favourite jockey and why?

Hugh Bowman without a doubt, he’s the Cinderella story of racing at the moment. I love how when he rides Winx the whole nation rides with him. Even with so much pressure on his shoulders he is always so composed.  It’s always incredible to watch Bowman and Winx team up.

If you were a jockey and could ride any horse past or present who would it be and why?

It would have to be Secretariat! That horse was almost fifty years ahead of his time. The records he broke were incredible!

Claudia with Beijing Board

Best horse you’ve ever worked with?

Megapixel! He was so fresh when I went out to ride him, you could tell exactly why he was a champion jumps horse, you could feel the power underneath you.

What are your future goals and aspirations?

I’d like to travel and ride work in other countries such as England, Ireland, France, Dubai and America. Ultimately though, I’d like to work as a presenter on one of the racings channels. I really enjoy doing race day form and talking about how individual horses have progressed through their preps.

Ok, last but not least, if you weren’t working in the racing industry what would you be doing?

I think you would find me being in the ocean as a marine biologist. I’m fascinated with the fact there’s a whole other world that’s not completely over run with human dominance.

Claudia riding Megapixel


Gaining so much experience in such little time just proves why Claudia has such a bright future ahead of her and we can’t thank her enough for allowing us to quiz her.

Thank you for reading about this week’s unsung hero in racing, we hope you had a magical Christmas and enjoy what the New Year has to bring!


Words by Kiersten Duke

Track Talk Tuesday – All in the Family, Ryan Englebrecht

Getting to know the unsung heroes behind the scenes!

Barrier attendants are one of the biggest unsung heroes in the racing industry, facing potentially dangerous situations every time they’re at work, their horsemanship and ability to work as a team allows them to do everything they can to keep all those involved safe. This is why this week we’re getting to know Ryan Englebrecht, barrier attendant at the Australian Turf Club.

Ryan has always been involved in the racing industry with several of his family members being trainers. He grew up in Muswellbrook where his grandfather trained horses like Idol and Romantic Dream who competed at the highest level.

Ryan strapping a winner at Hawkesbury for his sister Gabrielle Englebrecht

Hey Ryan! Who do you work for and what is your role?

Hey! I work as a foreman at Gabrielle Englebrecht Racing and I’m also a barrier attendant at the ATC.

How many years have you worked in the industry?

My whole life! My family are involved in racing so I was born into it.

Have you got any career highlights?

Referral winning the George Ryder for my dad (Steve Englebrecht), it was his first group one win so meant so much to our family.  Also Malavio winning the civic stakes, we had been struggling for a while so the win was a huge relief! He was three lengths last the whole way then at the last minute he swooped down the outside, winning by two lengths!

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

The best thing about working for Gabby is trying to help her achieve her goals. My favourite thing about working for the ATC is getting up close to some of the best horses in Australia! I also love being apart of the Sydney Carnival, it’s a great experience!

What do you think needs to be changed within the industry?

I think the industry needs to improve on dealing with mental health issues amongst staff. One possible way of decreasing fatigue and stress would be to give staff a proper work to home relationship. The increase in race meetings on Sunday’s often leaves staff months before they get a proper day off. This leaves them exhausted and asking for time off is often looked at as being weak which over time can result in depression.

Who is your favourite jockey and why?

Tommy Berry because of his ability to rise on the big occasions.

If you were a jockey and could ride any horse past or present who would it be and why?

I would have loved to have ridden Sunline. She was one of the toughest horses in history and had the ability to keep finding no matter what. She had such a high cruising speed and could still run a quick last 600!

Best horse you’ve ever worked with?

Referral. He was such a gentlemen and a pleasure to be involved with.

What are your future goals and aspirations?

My future goals are to help my sister (Gabby) be a successful trainer.

Last but not least, if you weren’t working in the thoroughbred industry what would you be doing?

Before I was serious about the racing industry I was a semi- professional musician so I probably would’ve kept doing that.

 massive thank you to Ryan for lending us his time to answer all our questions. We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about a true unsung hero that has worked tirelessly behind the scenes for so many years and does such a good job on the barriers keeping all those involved safe.Thanks again Ryan, we wish you all the best in the future!

Words by Kiersten Duke

Track Talk Tuesday – From NZ to Sydney Shores – Nathan Thomas

A huge thank you for all the positive and constructive responses we have received so far regarding Track Talk Tuesday.  All the kind words and suggestions are highly appreciated and we hope you enjoy our third week’s article.

This week we headed over to Royal Randwick where we got to know Nathan Thomas. Originally from New Zealand, Nathan moved to Australia at the age of 20, following in the footsteps of his older sister.  He began riding track work for Anthony Cummings and due to the better opportunities out here, he decided to stay.

Sneaking in a quick selfie before jumping on!

Hey Nathan, who do you work for and what is your role?

Hi, I work for John O’Shea as a track work rider.

How many years have you worked in the industry?

I’ve been working in the industry for about 14 years

Have you got any career highlights?

Yeah, I rode Daysee Doom work for Ron Quinton.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

The people, there’s always a lot of laughs. I’ve had some good times!

What do you think needs to be changed within the industry?

Not much, I am pretty happy with the way things are!

Nathan riding Cantonese track work for John O’Shea in Randwick

Who is your favourite jockey and why?

Got to be Hugh Bowman. He’s so humble and genuine. He’s always up for a chat!

If you were a jockey and could ride any horse past or present who would it be and why?

Winx! She’s a champion!

Best horse you’ve ever worked with?

Daysee Doom for Ron Quinton

Nathan riding Cantonese at beach for John O’Shea in Randwick

What are your future goals and aspirations?

Within the industry, I’m happy working for John O’Shea. In my personal life I race dirt bikes and I’m aiming for the podium!

If you weren’t working within the thoroughbred industry what would you be doing?

I’d be more focused on my other businesses. One of which is the Eastern Beaches Handyman Services.

Nathan spending his weekend off riding his dirt bikes

Huge thanks to Nathan for being such a good sport and letting us quiz him! We wish him all the best with his future and hope he gets that podium finish!

Nathan riding track work for David Vandyke


Words by Kiersten Duke

Track Talk Tuesdays – Unsung hero – Mark Whiteman

This week we headed to Rosehill Gardens in Sydney where we quizzed Mr Mark Whiteman.  Mark is a character whom is loved by many at Rosehill and is not only known for his time working in the industry but for his love of good burgers and his rotary car Rubi!

Originally from Cambridge, New Zealand, Mark previously worked at Ascot Farm preparing horses for Hong Kong before he became a jockey in 2011.  Due to weight issues he had to give this up in 2014 but you only have to add him on Snapchat (whitey76h) to discover that his love for the sport is still apparent!

Q. Hey Mark, who do you work for and what is your role?

A. Hey!  I work for David Payne as a foreman.

Q. How many years have you worked in the industry for?

A. Approximately 23 years- but who’s counting!

Q. What would be your career highlights?

A. Riding winners in three different countries and being paid to travel to various countries to work with various horses.

Q. What’s your favourite thing about your job?

A. Meeting lots of different people. I’ve made life long friends through the racing game

Q. What do you think needs to be changed within the industry?

A. Better conditions for strappers on race day

Mark winning on Fancy Flirt in New Caledonia- one of his all time favourite horses

Q. Who is your favourite jockey and why?

A. Jason Collett has become a very strong rider with great patience. Also, Opie Bosson, he’s a very balanced rider as well as Jeff Lloyd, he’s a freak of a rider and a great bloke to go with it!

Q. If you were a jockey and could ride any horse past or present who would it be and why?

A. Might and Power or Sunline. I loved riding bold front runners.

Q. Best horse you’ve ever worked with?

A. Ace High. He’s current, I know, but I think he has outstanding potential and that we haven’t seen the best of him yet.

Mark with Ace High for David Payne

 Q. What are your future goals and aspirations?

A. To keep doing what I am doing and then I’d like to open a cafe/burger bar

Q. Last question, if you weren’t working in the thoroughbred industry what do you think you would be doing?

A. I’d be a mechanic for sure! I have a real passion for motorsport and cars.

Mark with his other love in life- a different kind of horsepower!

Huge thanks to Mark for taking part in answering our questions and allowing us all to get to know him a little better.  A true gentleman that’s worked in the industry for 23 years definitely deserves some recognition if you ask us!


Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed & are looking forward to next weeks article!


Words by Kiersten Duke