Jockeys are the characters of horse racing. They are mostly larrikins, some vastly uneducated but the university of life makes them tough and like Formula One drivers they drive and ride expensive beasts which sometimes do not go as fast as the trainers tell them.
They’re underpaid and overworked, getting to the track at 4am every day and, when it comes to preparing for race day, they have go to the sauna, the gym, they run long distances to get fit and their diet is staggering, sometimes they have to fast to ride the weight.
Winning or losing means their family can eat caviar or a baked bean sandwich.
That’s the bottom line for the little men and now many women who will ride the mighty thoroughbreds this day.
Bush jockeys do it tough, they travel the length and breadth of the state for “bugger all” and when the gates open their life is on hold for 90 seconds.
So when Michael Cahill achieved the dream of winning the Wellington Boot he celebrated.
He knows like all the others, it’s one race at a time in this game.
“The Wellington Boot is like the Wagga Cup, (and) The Raimornie in Grafton, it’s definitely as good as you can get,’’ he said.
Cahill rode Gold Bender to a barn-storming win in last year’s Boot for trainer Mark De Montfort.
De Montfort used to ride himself in the bush.
“I spent two seasons in Mauritius. It was fun and I enjoyed it but to come home and win the Boot in my hometown was fantastic,” Cahill, who was born at Wellington, said.
“Mark, being a former jockey knows how hard it is to be a race rider so it was great to win for such a good fella,” he said.
Cahill believes training could be something he could do once he’s finished the helter-skelter life of racing.
“I love being a jockey but I have thought about training when I finish,” he said.
“I enjoy the sport.”
Cahill hasn’t a ride yet for the big race but be assured he’s watching the market moves, awaiting his chance.
Jockeys are characters, larrikin’s and the jockey’s room is full of fun and laughter before a race, behind the barriers and in even in the frenetic battle on the race track.
‘’Tony Hodder had a great sense of humour in the jockeys room always stirring us before a race, Kenny Dunbar from Dubbo is always fun before a race and on the track, Allan Robinson. You have gotta have a sense of humour to be a jockey’’ he said.
These days’ women jockeys are everywhere and the bush represents a nursery of brilliant female hoops.
‘’Women are infiltrating us mate aren’t they’’ he said with a laugh ‘’ But we enjoy the repartee’’
Cahill hasn’t a ride yet for the big race but be assured he’s watching the market moves.