Apprentice hoop surging up premiership ladder

Molly Bourke is one of the in-form jockeys in NSW with the 19-year-old booting home 11 winners at her last 50 starts. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Molly Bourke continued her hot form at Canberra on Sunday, with the apprentice jockey notching up yet another winning double. 

Bourke’s first winner was on the Bryce Heys-trained Appetite For Risk ($9.50), which proved too strong in the 1300m Benchmark 60 Handicap.

Then riding Shafty ($4) for Gundagai trainer David Blundell, Bourke won the 2000m Class One Handicap. 

The ride on the five-year-old was something special too, with the young jockey sitting patiently at the rear of the field before finishing with a blinding run on Shafty.  

The 19-year-old is in sublime touch, having won on 11 of her last 50 rides, while this season, Bourke has booted home 24 winners at a strike rate of 15.6%, earning connections $513,865 in the process. 

In fact, the Tumbarumba product is just outside of the NSW country jockey premiership’s top-10, with her 23 country winners ranking her 12th in the state.

The youngster suggested she isn’t doing anything different either, but she did put her winning form down to good opportunities.

“It’s going really good at the moment,” Bourke said. 

“I think I have a bit of momentum behind me and more opportunities, which has helped heaps. 

“Plus, I think because there are more meetings, it is so much easier to get more rides, and riding more winners helps, because more people are willing to put me on their horses.” 

It’s an exciting time for Bourke, who has changed management, teaming up with Jordan Matthews, who books rides for the likes of Adrian Layt, Amy McLucas, Julia Presits, Corey Bayliss, Jackson Murphy, and Damon Budler. 

“We were on the lookout for a new manager, and Doug (Gorrel) was looking after me for a while, and I rang up Jordan, and he said Adrian Layt was moving to Queensland, and he had a position, and he said he would take me on,” Bourke said. 

“It’s only been a week, but he does a very good job at promoting his jockeys and getting them good opportunities.”

With seven and a half months left in the 2022/23 season, the 1.5kg claiming apprentice has plenty of opportunities to make it her best yet, and she has one big goal in mind. 

“By the end of the season, I want to outride my country claim and be in a position to move to the city and finish my apprenticeship there,” Bourke said. 

“I’ve already ridden 54 winners, and 80 is the country claim, and I’m pretty sure I can do that.” 

On Thursday, Bourke will look to add a provincial win to her growing resume when guiding the Mike Van Gestal-trained No Statement in the 1000m Benchmark 64 Handicap and Heat of the Rising Star series.

From there, Bourke will have opportunities at Goulburn on Friday, Narrandera on Saturday, Moruya on Sunday, and Corowa on Monday.