It was a chance phone call after seeing him conduct a post-race interview on TV that saw Jade Doyle end up at the Gordon Richards stable – the stable where, from August 1, she will now start learning her craft as an apprentice jockey.
The 22-year old (she celebrates her 23rd birthday on the Horses’ Birthday, August 1) is one of two new apprentices joining Racing SA’s Apprentice Academy next month as she looks to further develop her skills in race riding.
Growing up in Alice Springs, the trackrider has spent time working in stables at Newmarket, Melbourne and Adelaide – where she is currently in her second stint working for Richards at Morphettville.
“I saw him (Richards) on TV one day after he had a winner and I thought he looks nice, I’ll give him a call and see if he needs any staff,” Doyle recalled, when recounting how she first commenced with Richards a couple of years ago.
“I’m not sure if he knows that actually,” she added with a laugh.
“I got pretty lucky, I wouldn’t want to work for anyone else.”
Despite her youth, Doyle already has decades of experience with horses after being exposed to them from a young age through her mum, Joanne Doyle, who was a jockey in Alice Springs.
“We always had horses at home and I used to watch her ride. She once said to me ‘you can be anything you want when you grow up except a jockey’. So of course that’s what I wanted to do,” Doyle said with a laugh.
“I was riding a horse almost before I could walk. I was always involved with them through showjumping, equestrian, pony clubs, but growing up in Alice Springs I didn’t have the resources and probably wasn’t good enough to pursue any of that seriously.
“I starting riding at track work when I was 14 or 15. Then when I finished school I moved to Newmarket to further learn the ropes of racing.
“It was a big change going from a five horse stable in Alice Springs to a 50 horse stable in Newmarket but I learned how to do everything perfectly and it helped with my riding a lot.
“I also learnt a lot about the care of horses, it was a really big focus.”
Returning to Australia in 2019, Doyle was watching the races on TV when she first saw and made that phone call to Richards after a win by Sir Garfield.
The phone call paid off and she began riding track work and working in the stables for Richards before a short stint in Melbourne - first with Rob Hickmott at Caulfield and then Matt Laurie at Mornington – where she gained further experience working in big stables.
Then last year she made the decision to return to Adelaide and the Richards stable to pursue an apprenticeship.
“Initially I didn’t think I was good enough to become a jockey but a few trainers at the track asked me if I was going to be an apprentice which made me think perhaps I was,” she said.
“I’ve been focused on improving my riding and getting advice from the other jockeys.
“It’s really exciting to now be progressing to the next stage.”
And how does her mum feel about her daughter pursuing a career as a jockey after her advice all those years ago?
“My parents spent a lot of time traveling around to pony clubs and competitions with me when I was growing up, they have both been very supportive,” Doyle said.
“Mum’s happy for me, she always loved it she just didn’t want to admit it.”
Racing SA Apprentice Academy Master Briony Moore said she was thrilled to welcome Jade into the program.
“We’re delighted to have Jade and Stacey Callow join our Apprentice Academy in August and we’re looking forward to seeing them develop into high-performing, professional athletes,” Moore said.
“Our Apprentice Program aims to prepare participants for a long and successful racing career, whether that’s locally, nationally or internationally, and we’re excited to see both Jade and Stacey progress over the coming months.”