On home turf

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS -

As­cot jockey Brodie Kirby is ready to make his mark in the city af­ter a big year of suc­cess at coun­try races.

RIS­ING ap­pren­tice jockey Brodie Kirby doesn’t get a lot of time to cel­e­brate his wins but he con­cedes the last week of Septem­ber was cer­tainly one to cher­ish.

The West Coast Ea­gles fan was un­able to ar­range a day off work for the AFL Grand Fi­nal so had to cheer on his foot­ball team be­tween race rides at Bel­mont Park race­course.

“That was a great day, with the Ea­gles win­ning and I had four rides for a win­ner, a cou­ple of sec­onds and a fourth,” he said.

Two days ear­lier, Kirby had col­lected three awards at the an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of WA re­gional thor­ough­bred rac­ing and ap­pren­tice jock­eys, with his shared ti­tle of lead­ing provin­cial jockey sur­pris­ing even him­self.

“The provin­cial award, I didn’t think an ap­pren­tice could win it so I was in a bit of shock,” he said.

“To draw it with Wil­lie Pike was a pretty big thing – you sort of dream to be along­side some­one like him.”

The 22-year-old was also named Lead­ing Outer Provin­cial Ap­pren­tice Jockey and Lead­ing Re­gional Ap­pren­tice Jockey in a nod to his break­out 2017-18 cam­paign, in which he rode plenty of winners out­side Perth.

“I’ve rid­den the ma­jor­ity of my winners out in the bush, so now I’m re­ally con­cen­trat­ing on metro,” he said.

“The goal as an ap­pren­tice is to out­ride your claim, so that’s what I’ll be try­ing to do in the next 18 months.”

He’s al­ready achieved that mark for coun­try races, where he has saluted no less than 70 times.

Kirby main­tains a 3kg claim for Perth races at As­cot or Bel­mont and a 2kg claim for rides at nearby provin­cial tracks such as Bun­bury and Northam, which can be a dif­fer­ence maker for train­ers look­ing for a weight ad­van­tage.

He is also one of the few male ap­pren­tice jock­eys based in Perth.

Life for an ap­pren­tice jockey like Kirby is hard yakka. He starts most morn­ings at 3.30am rid­ing track­work at As­cot for train­ers such as Dion Lu­ciani and Fred Ker­s­ley.

On days where he has race rides in the coun­try, he leaves the track in time to catch a morn­ing flight to cen­tres such as Kal­go­or­lie or Ger­ald­ton ahead of the first race about lunchtime. It’s gen­er­ally af­ter 8pm be­fore he’s home in As­cot.

He’s hop­ing that hard work and his ac­com­plish­ments trans­late to a greater strike rate in Perth this year and pos­si­bly a lead­ing metropoli­tan jockey award.

“I just want to ride winners. If you’re not rid­ing winners you can get a bit de­pressed,” he said.

Kirby’s sus­tained suc­cess in his break­out year came de­spite a three-month lay­out af­ter knee surgery and a five-week stint on the side­line af­ter sus­tain­ing a bro­ken col­lar­bone in a fall.

He also briefly took up an op­por­tu­nity to ride in Syd­ney for Gai Water­house, but cut that short to re­turn to Perth.

Pic­ture: Western Ra­cepix

Brodie Kirby (wear­ing yel­low) salutes aboard Amar­illo Rose at Bel­mont Park.

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