As easy as 1, 2, 3 (and four)

December 27, 2017


Honolulu Lass ridden by Tahlia Hope wins the Quest Echuca Maiden Plate at Echuca Racecourse on December 20, 2017 in Echuca, Australia. (Brendan McCarthy/Racing Photos)

Barchetta ridden by Jacob Rule wins the Ferrari Building & Maintenance F&M BM64 Handicap at Echuca Racecourse on December 20, 2017 in Echuca, Australia. (Brendan McCarthy/Racing Photos)



Seymour jockey Tahlia Hope tore up the Echuca racecourse last week, winning four of the eight races on the card.

She thought she had smacked the ball out of the park winning races three, four and five — the second treble of her short career as an apprentice.

But in the end she ran her own quadrella and it was her fourth win, on Barchetta in the $20000 Ferrari Building & Maintenance Handicap over 1170m, that put the biggest smile on her face.

She only got the ride for trainer Aaron Purcell because jockey Jacob Rule could not make the meeting, and with 250m to the finish line she was stone cold last.

But when she got a clear look at the straight she drove the four-year-old mare forward and it was absolutely flying — and going away — when it hit the line.

On a high after her treble, Hope said she could not recall ever feeling as confident of winning as she did on Barchetta once the horse got into her full stride.

‘‘At the 250m I let her go and by the 200m mark I knew we had them,’’ Hope said.

‘‘Barchetta is a lovely horse in the making and we were still pulling away from the field after we crossed the line.

‘‘It was an amazing end to the most amazing day of my career.’’

Even better, the punters were in love with her as much as the trainers and owners because all four winners started favourite or near favourite.

Hope’s dream day began in the $22000 Welch Quality Builders 3YO Maiden Plate over 1400m when Casa de Lago held off the field to win.

In the fourth, the $22000 Quest Echuca Maiden Plate over 1400m Honolulu Lass put daylight between her and the field and by the time Hope was in the saddle of Superveloce in the $18000 Murphy’s Turf & Landscaping Handicap over 1400m punters were rushing to back her ride.

And she didn’t let them down, steering the horse into the clear well down the straight and charging to victory by more than two lengths.

Trainer Paddy Payne wasn’t on hand at Echuca but when he heard of Hope’s treble on his horses his grin would still have struggled to match hers.

‘‘I had ridden all three horses for him recently, two at Wangaratta and one at Kyneton, and was pretty confident I would come home with at least one winner at Echuca,’’ Hope said.

‘‘But four, I would never have thought of four.

‘‘Paddy has been a great supporter and given me some really good rides.

‘‘I was doing a lot for him before I broke my leg and since I came back have been getting to where we used to be.’’

It’s been a big couple of weeks for the young jockey; she has also just completed her time at the jockey apprentice school, graduating with flying colours.

‘‘But that doesn’t mean the end of my apprenticeship, I still have two years to go on that, but with my wins my claim in the country has been knocked down to 1.5kg,’’ Hope said.

‘‘So this is a pretty good time for me to start looking at races in town where I still have a 3kg claim, and because I have finished school I can focus just on my racing,’’ she said.

That decision is certain to interest a lot of trainers and owners — the 19-year-old has already won $1419254 in prizemoney with 67 winners from 613 starts.

Not that she sees much of it — apprentice earnings go into a trust account run by Racing Victoria.

But it is an impressive tally when you consider it was nearly all done on country tracks and smaller returns.

‘‘I have some rides coming up at Caulfield on Boxing Day so a good showing there won’t go astray,’’ Hope said.

She was showered with congratulations after her big day out in Echuca but on the next day came back to earth in a hurry — she was up at the crack of dawn doing track work before heading to the Seymour races where she had four rides, including one for her father, Seymour trainer Shannon ... and finished the day without a win.

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