Like many families, COVID-19 had made things difficult for SA jockey Kayla Crowther, her mother Claire and little brother Jack.
Being separated from her Ballarat-based loved ones for the best part of a year made last Saturday’s treble even sweeter for Kayla, who said prior to the Gawler meeting, her mother had never witnessed her ride a winner.
“She’d only been to a couple of race meetings before, like early days and maybe my first race in the city, and when I rode Flemington,” Kayla said.
“But she’s probably never been to those stock-standard meetings. So finally she was here for a couple of weeks and she decided that Gawler was the one she was going to come to, so it was great to ride three winners.”
Kayla said the treble – in consecutive races – helped extinguish a suspicion that has been brewing for some time.
“Usually Mum thinks she’s bad luck,” Kayla said.
“Every time she comes I don’t ride a winner, and she’s like ‘It’s because I’m watching’ and she feels kind of bad. So it was great to make her feel that that’s definitely not the case.
“I was very pleased. I saw her (between races) every time I was trotting back to scale. She was clapping and she was really happy.”
The treble (Taken Off, Four of a Kind, Stan the Caddy), combined with her family connection, made Saturday particularly special for the 22-year-old hoop.
“My little brother Jack was there as well and he was really happy – he’s nearly 11,” she said.
“He sometimes comes and stays with us on his own, but I hadn’t seen him for nearly a year too.
“So it was one of my favourite days.”
A special activity organised by Kayla for early Sunday morning curtailed any thoughts of a post-meeting celebration on Saturday night.
“Because it was at Gawler we didn’t really get home until 6.30/7pm, but for everyone’s Christmas present I bought a hot air balloon trip for Sunday,” Kayla said.
“We all went to bed early, because we were getting up at three o’clock to go on this hot air balloon. So we didn’t really celebrate at night time, but we had a really nice Sunday.”
Meanwhile Kayla says Taken Off – one of two winners she rode for the Stokes stable – could progress to a higher grade following his impressive victory in a benchmark 68 event over 1200m on Saturday.
“Obviously we’re still learning a little bit about him, but he’s pretty nice,” she said.
“At first we thought he’d be strictly a 1000m horse, just the way he galloped. He’s a really heavy-set horse, but he ran really well over 1200m the start prior (when) obviously we were pretty unlucky…
“To do all the chasing (on Saturday) I kind of thought we’d blown our chances, but he probably just showed that he has come on a lot and he’s improved physically and mentally.
“I think he’s got quite a few wins left in him. He’ll probably have to step up a bit if he’s going to win a Listed race, but many of them have, so it’s not out of reach.”
IMAGE: Kayla Crowther wins aboard Taken Off at Gawler last Saturday. PHOTO: atkinsphotography.com.au