There is no stopping Will Stanley from him achieving his goal of one day becoming a professional jockey.
While most youngsters become apprentices, the 17-year-old has been forced to take the road less travelled, and will finally get his boots in the irons on Saturday when debuting at Bedgerabong Picnics.
Stanley, who applied to do his apprenticeship halfway through last year, has seen his application delayed, so instead, he will become an amateur hoop for the time being.
“There has been a bit of trouble with my apprenticeship but we are in the process of sorting it out,” Stanley said.
“We went for my apprenticeship about seven months ago and we have been waiting but we will get there.”
When asked how he felt ahead of his first meeting, he was excited and nervous all at the same time.
“I can’t wait. I’ve been waiting for this all my life and I finally get a crack at it,” Stanley said.
“I’ll be nervous, but I just need to have fun and just enjoy it.”
Stanley has been working hard on his path to Saturday’s debut, riding full time for Wanda Ings in Bathurst.
“I’ve been a track work rider for Wanda and she has about 26 in work,” Stanley said.
“I’ve been doing that for about two and a half years now.”
It is fitting that Stanley has his first ride for Ings too, when he jumps aboard Dot The Eye in the first event, the 1100m Maiden Plate.
Stanley will then ride Simcha for Sharon Jeffries in the 1100m Open Trophy Handicap before jumping aboard Star of Zizou for Bryan Dixon in the 900m Open Trophy.
In what will be a thrill for the young hoop, Stanley will get his first feature race ride on Saturday, again riding for Dixon when aboard Song One in the Bedgerabong Cup.
The up-and-coming jockey said he was pleased to be riding for Wanda Ings before explaining how he picked up such a good book of rides straight off the bat.
“I’m glad my first ride is for Wanda and Brian Dixon and I are very close friends and Dale Jeffries is one of the apprentice mentors and I’ve known him since I started walking,” Stanley said.
Born and bred in Orange but now based in Bathurst, Stanley is meant for the industry, being the son of Peter Stanley and brother to Ashley and Justin Stanley.
The newest Stanley on the racing scene was grateful for his dad’s advice too, before making a tongue in cheek comment that demonstrates is a natural competitor.
“Yeah, he gives me a few bits of advice every now and then, but he won’t want to when I’m riding against him,” Stanley laughed.
With the picnic racing scene about to click into full gear in the coming months, Stanley said he would be available for rides.
“I’ll be available for rides and I’ll definitely be going to Condo,” Stanley said.
One trainer who had a lot to say about Stanley was Debbie Prest, who has helped the young jockey out with trial rides.
“He is a terrific kid, we gave him first jump outs, then his first trial on Miss Charlie at Orange and then his first trial win on Smokey Eye at Gilgandra,” Prest said.
“He has fantastic attitude; he is good around the horses a good horseman and he wants to succeed.”
Prest envisioned a successful career for Stanley, who was ticking all the right boxes.
“I reckon he is going to be a good jockey; he is stylish, he loves the horses and he has a touch with them and I like that,” Prest said.
“I don’t like arrogant ones, I like the ones that love their horses and Peter (Kirby) and I have been happy to help him and he has been super grateful.”