Fiona Sandkuhl is 12 wins into her burgeoning career as a jockey, and like many country hoops, she mixes her time racing on premier country tracks and many once-a-year non-TAB racecourses.
On Saturday, the 22-year-old will visit Tumbarumba Turf Club for the first time, boasting a good book of rides on what is one of the more popular country meetings in the Southern Districts.
“I’m really looking forward to it. This will be my first time riding at Tumba,” Sandkuhl said.
“I have heard that it is a bit of a tight track, and the turn after the post is tight and I expect it to be very hilly and challenging but that is part of country racing.”
The feature on the program is the $16,000 Tumbarumba Cup and Sandkuhl will carry the weight of expectation when combining with local product and Wantabadgery trainer, Rodger Waters, jumping abord the highly fancied Sizzleonthebridge.
“I haven’t spoken to Rodger about the race, but I think he should be up there and a good chance of winning,” Sandkuhl said.
“There will be a couple of horses wanting that early lead but hopefully we do well and bring it home for Rodger.”
Sandkuhl will jump aboard two big chances for her master, Mitchell Beer, and she believed both were leading contenders in their respective races.
“I’ve got The Wyvern in the 1020m (Benchmark 45) race. I’ve won on her before and she will carry some weight but hopefully she will prove too hard to beat,” Sandkuhl said.
“Road To Emmaus is going good and has run second quite a few times. He missed the kick at Tumut, but he is a really good leader and lovely to ride.
“At Tumba, he drops back to the 1200m (Maiden Plate). I would like to be sitting off the leader, but as long as he is going early, he should be hard to catch.”
Sandkuhl will also team up with Canberra trainer Doug Gorrel in the 1200m Class One Handicap, riding Sheeza Menzies, and the young hoop said she was excited to ride in front of a potentially massive local crowd.
“I actually like the experience. I think the turn out at these meetings, when everyone can attend, is really great,” Sandkuhl said.
“I think having the big local crowd is good and I quite enjoy riding at these non-tabbers.
“Yes, you are racing for less and you’re probably on a lower-class horse, but everyone has fun regardless of what you’re riding, and it should be the same at Tumba.”
It won’t just be a big day for Sandkuhl on Saturday, with Tumbarumba set to host an entertaining six-race-program.
The Southern Districts club is due for some good luck too, with fires ravaging the region in 2019/20, before their 2021 meeting was abandoned following substantial rain.