In 2021, Sally Faulks was getting into the swing of her apprenticeship, with the Wollongong product working for Theresa Bateup as she looked to make her mark in the NSW jockey ranks.
Injury and weight issues curtailed her plans, but she clawed her way back and riding as an amateur hoop, she landed her first victory and winning double at Tullibigeal last month.
“I used to be a jockey at the provincials, and I was an apprentice to Gwenda Markwell, and I transferred my apprenticeship to Theresa Bateup and had 15 race rides before I had a fall and fractured my tailbone,” Faulks said.
“When I was off, I put on so much weight and couldn’t return to race riding.”
“I left Theresa and moved to another stable, and I was riding trackwork and getting my fitness and confidence back.”
Riding for Dubbo trainer Connie Greig at Tullibigeal, the 20-year-old rode her first winner on Everyone in the 975m Tullibigeal Sprint before winning on Hot Press in the 1600m Class One Handicap.
“It was wonderful,” Faulks said.
“To be honest, I couldn’t believe it, and it all just happened so fast,” Faulks said.
“I had four rides, and the first one (Rewardus) ran last, and the trainer (Allan Prisk) said he’s not much good, but as soon as I saw Connie’s horse walk into the yard, I thought we might have a winner here, and I was lucky enough it turned out that way.”
Faulks believes the winning double is just what the doctor ordered as she continues on her path back to being an apprentice jockey.
“It really was a boost,” Faulks said.
“The big thing with me is that I lack a lot of confidence, and those two wins are probably two of the best rides I’ve put in since I started race riding, and it’s reminded me that if I put in the effort, I can win those races, get more good rides, and get results.”
Faulks now has confidence, and her weight is good, but she won’t be rushing back into an apprenticeship; instead, she wants to learn her trade on the picnic racing scene.
“Right now, I’m the lightest I’ve ever been,” Faulks said.
“I’m 57 kg, and I was never that light, and I’d have to sweat 4kg out before going to the races.
“I’ll see how it all goes, but in about six months, I will have a crack and see if I can outride some of my claim at the picnics and then head back to the professionals.”
The Kembla Grange-based jockey thanked those around her who have helped her on her journey, including Greig, who will put Faulks on two horses at the Back O’ Bourke picnic meeting on Sunday.
“I still claim three, and her number one rider is Leandro (Ribeiro), so I’ll just let Connie tell me which one I’ll ride,” Faulks said.
“It’s been great, and Leo has been a big help to me, and he always messages me on a Sunday or Monday, seeing what rides I have and asking if I need numbers, and since I’ve started at the picnics, he has been a pretty big help.”
Faulks was always destined to be in the racing industry with her father, Peter Korn, a trainer. At the same time, her mother, Melissa Faulks, is a foreman at Kembla Grange, and she will travel to Bourke with her mother this weekend when chasing more success on the picnic circuit.
“I will probably be travelling with my mum, and we will leave late Saturday night, race Sunday, and drive home Monday,” Faulks said.
“I love going away and seeing new places, especially out in the country, and I’ve always wanted to travel the country and see somewhere I haven’t seen before; it will be fantastic.”
Easter Sunday’s Back O’ Bourke meeting will offer an entertaining five-race program, which is headlined by the $12,000 Harry Hart Memorial Bourke Picnic Cup (1600m)
The meeting is part and parcel of the big Back O’ Bourke Easter Festival, which runs from Friday to Monday.