Apprentice jockey Coriah Keatings is a natural in the saddle, and it’s no wonder why, with the 21-year-old well-versed in equestrian events.
Still, Keatings is the first person to admit it took her a lot of training and practice before being ready to trial and race thoroughbreds.
“I grew up on a farm in Albury and I’ve always been in the region,” Keatings said.
“Growing up, I was doing a lot of equestrian, and I travelled the state doing nationals, and sort of fell into the racing industry.
“Having grown up show jumping and eventing, and moving to track work riding, you have to change everything and mould yourself to be completely different.”
Now riding for Albury trainer Donna Scott, Keatings kicked off her career at Leeton in April, finishing a close second on the Norm Loy-trained Waiting For A Mate, and since then, the 21-year-old had gone close at Wagga and Narrandera before finally breaking through at Gundagai at start number 10.
Racing at Gundagai-Adelong Racing Club on Saturday, Keatings combined with her master on Hit’em Hard in the 1000m Benchmark 50 Handicap, finding the front after the home turn before holding on by the barest of margins when winning by 0.02 of a length from the fast-finishing Kitty Karine (Robyn Freeman) from the Jack Van Duren yard.
Keatings was thrilled to get the win, but she admitted there were some nervous moments when Kitty Karine came flying home late in the race.
“As I was travelling up to the leaders, I thought we were the winner, but I didn’t realise the horse on my outside was coming, so I was a little worried, but when I knew we had won, it was a big relief,” Keatings said.
“There is a lot of pressure to get that first win early and get your name out there and I had been close a few times, and was knocking on the door, but I knew I just had to find the right horse and track, and we did on Sunday, and it was good to get the job done.”
Keatings said she arrived in Gundagai confident she was on the right horse to break her duck.
“I was really confident he would run a good race and I know the horse really well,” Keatings said.
“He was one of the first horses I ever sat on for Donna, and I knew he had been close at Gundagai before and he likes the track and likes the heavy, and I knew he would run well.
“Plus, when we got out there, he felt good under me, and I thought he would be pretty hard to beat.”
Keatings was thrilled to win her first race for Scott, and she thanked the Albury trainer for the opportunity to be a professional jockey.
“I reckon I would have been 19 when I first started, but I was not getting the opportunities I needed, and Donna and I had a chat, and I said I wanted to get serious with the apprenticeship,” Keatings said.
“I thought I had the ability and drive, and needed Donna’s support, and I started with her a year ago, and at the time I had never had a jump out and I was riding one horse a morning, and then after the move, she was putting me on 13 horses a morning and sending me to jump outs.
“Without Donna’s support, I wouldn’t be here today, and her support has been completely and utterly instrumental to my career and I’m grateful for that.”
After her breakthrough win, the young hoop is now out to make a name for herself, and she wants to outride her country claim for Scott.
“Going forward, I would love to outride my country claim with Donna, and maybe towards the end of my apprenticeship, I’d like to ride my metro and provincial claim out, but my main goal is focusing on my apprenticeship,” Keatings said.
“I just want to build up a bit of a reputation at the country tracks, and I love riding at the country tracks, and riding a horse keeps me happy and I’m really loving what I am doing.”