Maddie Raymond – Behind the Scene with ‘POP’
THE 2015 MELBOURNE CUP WILL BE FOREVER REMEMBERED FOR ITS GIRL POWER, WITH MICHELLE PAYNE RIDING INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS AS THE FIRST LADY JOCKEY TO WIN THE
PRESTIGIOUS RACE. IT WILL CERTAINLY BE A DAY TO REMEMBER FOR ANOTHER YOUNG LADY, 22 YEAR OLD MADDIE RAYMOND, ONE OF THE STRAPPERS AND TRACK RIDER OF WINNING HORSE PRINCE OF PENZANCE, OR ‘POP’ AS HE IS MORE AFFECTIONATELY KNOWN
AMONGST THE DARREN WEIR STAFF.
As all eyes were on Stevie Payne proudly leading his little sister Michelle, back into the winner’s stall, it was easy to overlook one of the stalwarts of the Darren Weir Team, who without hesitation had let Stevie join her in one of her biggest moments as a stable hand. “The owners had asked for Stevie to help strap and I didn’t mind at all. To be honest, I don’t like much fuss and attention so it worked out really well. Stevie took the limelight and raised lots of great awareness for people with Down Syndrome, which is also our stable charity and I was able to concentrate on looking after the horse himself, which is what I love doing.” Maddie said. Warrnambool native Maddie has always had a keen interest in horses, beginning with riding ponies from a young age. When she was still in school, Darren Weir decided to operate a satellite stable from Warrnambool and Maddie picked up a part time job at weekends and school holidays, before moving to Euroa and working at Lindsay Park after completing school. After two years at Lindsay Park, Maddie returned home to Warrnambool and re-joined the Weir team. When the opportunity came in late 2014 to travel to Ireland to work for Champion Jumps trainer Willie Mullins, Maddie snapped up the chance. Coming from Warrnambool, the home of Australian jumps racing, an opportunity to see how one of the world’s top jumps racing yards operated, proved an exciting adventure. “Riding out and working with horses is a lot different in Ireland than it is here. While I was able to use the skills I had learned from working in Australian racing, there was so much to learn. Even the way the horses are exercised is totally different. It was a great experience and I was able to work with some really great people and fantastic horses.” One horse in particular that Maddie got to know and ride out was Melbourne Cup second place finisher Max Dynamite. “I had ridden Max Dynamite out when I worked in Ireland, so I knew the horse quite well. He is a very talented horse, but I think I always knew deep down that ‘ Pop’ would be able to beat him.” Not many people can say they had ridden out and cared for the Melbourne Cup quinella, especially when they are trained on opposite sides of the world. After spending six months in Ireland, the position of a Stable Foreman at Warrnambool was offered to Maddie so she decided to return home, taking over care of Prince of Penzance who was recovering from colic surgery last February. One of the perks of having a satellite training base in the coastal town of Warrnambool is the great beach amenities on their door step. Most horses enjoy the break from regular stable routine that being exercised both on the beach and swimming in the water provides. In having such a facility, Weir has the option to send horses to Warrnambool to help recuperate and rehabilitate post-surgery, as was the case with Prince of Penzance. Working in racing isn’t all sunny Spring glamour and the life of a Stable Forman is certainly not for the faint hearted. A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes to ensure horses make it to race day. For Maddie, her daily routine at the stables consists of early morning rises, with work commencing before sunrise at 4am. The Warrnambool Weir team usually ride four lots of horses down at the beach, before a final lot is worked through the nearby sand dunes. The picturesque sight of horses being swum behind a rowing boat is a regular sight off the Warrnambool pier for those who rise early enough to witness. Teamwork is to the fore as everyone pitches in to all jobs at the stables. Maddie can be found mucking out, feeding and carrying out general horse care alongside riding the horses. A typical week would mean at least one trip to the races, with every weekend being spent at the races with stable runners during the busy Spring Carnival. Darren Weir was quick to praise the great team he has around him in being part of his Melbourne Cup success. Weir values good staff and Maddie is no exception, ensuring she returned to Warrnambool from Ireland with the enticement of promotion to Stable Foreman. Hard work deserves reward and recognition. “Maddie is a great worker and has done a great job looking after Prince of Penzance. Hats off to Maddie I reckon, letting Stevie share her day.” Weir added.