Sebastian Galea is ready to make his mark as an amateur jockey.
As cliché as it may sound, racing is in the 17-year-old’s blood.
His father Joe Galea was a successful jockey and his mother Janelle Galea trains out of her Dubbo base, and when asked how long he had been in the saddle, he’s answer showcased why he is excited to finally be riding at the picnics.
“Since the day I was born,” Galea proudly replied.
“Mum (Janelle Galea) has been a trainer for a while now, and dad (Joe Galea) was a jockey and he retired about 10 to 15 years ago, and I’ve always been around them and I honestly wouldn’t know what else to do.”
Galea, who is most fondly known as ‘Sausage’ in racing circles, doesn’t envision becoming a professional due to his weight, but that doesn’t faze him.
“I’m sitting around 62kg at the moment, and I don’t think I could be a professional, but I am happy doing this at the moment,” Galea said.
“If I was to get my weight down, I might go there, but I’m not counting on it and I’m just looking forward to riding at the picnics.”
Getting to the picnics was no mean feat for the Dubbo hoop, but he got all the required trials in before making his debut at Cobar on December 10.
“It was a very long process, and even just starting riding at the trials took about 12 months, but once I got the all-clear to start trials, I dug in and got everything done,” Galea said.
“I wasn’t meant to be riding at Cobar, but a week out, I thought I’d try and push it and ride as there wasn’t a lot of jockeys going.
“I rang (Head Jockey Coach for Racing NSW) Corey Brown, and I wouldn’t have rode if it wasn’t for him helping me, and I had trials at Bathurst, Kembla, and Queanbeyan all in three days in the week of the Cobar meeting, and it was lots of travelling, but it was worth it to finally have my first rides.”
At Cobar, Galea took two rides, and he was thrilled to finish third on the Peter Kirby-trained Her Call in the 1200m Plate.
“The feeling was terrific; I can’t really explain it,” Galea said.
“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do my whole life, and it was so good when I got there and got to ride.”
Galea has a good network of trainers to call upon, and he hopes his connections help net him some winners in 2023.
“I do have some good contacts. I am pretty much signed up with Connie, and ride work with her every morning,” Galea said.
“I’ll get some rides with Bryan Dixon, Kylie Kennedy, and Peter Kirby, and I ride work for Kieren Hazelton once a week, and he will have some good opportunities if he goes to the picnics.”
Galea’s next step is to ride his first winner, but he does have one big goal in the back of his mind.
“I haven’t really thought that far ahead, but my main goal is riding in the Picnic Championship,” Galea said.
“I’ve only been to one Picnic Championship before, which was at Dubbo on Derby Day, and with the big crowd and jockeys, it was an awesome experience and I hope to get the chance.”
Galea has had some handy mentors on his way to becoming a picnic jockey, learning from the likes of Rodney and Brett Robb, and he explained that’s where he also picked up his nickname ‘Sausage’.
“Rodney Robb gave it to me when I was six or seven years old,” Galea laughed.
“With me being a bit heavy, every time Rodney turned around, I’d be eating a sausage role or something, so he started calling me Sausage and I probably get called that more than my actual name.”
As a busy 2023 of picnic racing approaches, kicking off at Bedgerabong on February 11, Galea said he will travel all over NSW for opportunities.
“Have saddle, will travel, and if there are any picnics meetings on, I’ll be there,” Galea said.
“I want to be at every meeting this year, and if I can get rides, I’ll be there giving it my best.”