Shepparton News

Peta gallops ahead as track rider

- By Liam Nash

Pony club extraordin­aire turned trackwork rider Peta Nietvelt is wasting no time chiselling a reputation as a real hidden gem within the Benalla racing landscape.

Coming under the wing of local trainer Mick Gibson nine months ago, the daily 5.30am starts have paid dividends with the 24-year-old now qualifying for nationals in the track riding program Ride To Time.

And it’s no wonder.

In a short space of time, Nietvelt has seamlessly transition­ed from what her mentor likened to the difficulty of a plumber switching trades to become an electricia­n.

“She’s been terrific, I’ve had four wins since she’s been here,” Gibson said proudly.

“She really has been a quick learner and very conscienti­ous to learn the side of racing towards horses.”

With a complete profile in pony club riding, Nietvelt was offered a spot by Gibson when the pair crossed paths in January.

Nietvelt’s post was a stable hand working in thoroughbr­eds, Gibson needed a track rider. The rest is history. Putting her nose to the grindstone — and fast at that — the Swan Hill native soon impressed the 73-year-old in her new role thanks to her ability to bond with the horses she works with.

And in Gibson’s eyes, that’s considered a nonnegotia­ble.

“I had this horse who was good for me; I bred him, trained him and he had won for me,” he said.

“Peta said she knew a girl who would love to have him and so we sold him to her and now he’s made it to the Pony Club Nationals which is a pretty big deal.”

The horse Gibson refers to is Chance Taken, winner of the marshalls+dent wilmoth Lawyers Maiden Plate in 2018.

Finding greener pastures for his runners is a prerogativ­e Gibson takes deadly serious, and after seeing the onus Nietvelt took upon herself, he could help but admire his prote´ge´.

“We as a racing community have got to look after our horses once they finish up,” Gibson said.

“With Chance Taken, she found a home for him and now he rides for them in a very high grade of the pony club system, that is what we want for our horses after racing.

“Peta’s love for the horse really shows out every day that she’s with me.”

As for Nietvelt, she admits herself it wasn’t all smooth sailing at the start.

“Mick’s been a great teacher, but you really have to stick it out,” she said.

“In the beginning it was super hard because I had no control over the horses, but as you go along you work them out.

“You can’t learn any other way other than just doing it — there are early mornings, but it’s the best time of the day I reckon, wakes you up.

“Now I absolutely love it.”

The early wake ups don’t exactly equate to early finishes for Nietvelt.

She is studying to be a primary school teacher, meaning it’s all big days and long hours for the time being.

But Gibson need not fear about losing his star student; Nietvelt has voiced her love for his horses as well as continuing in the trackwork riding field.

After all, why would she leave if she’s appears to be such a good fit?

 ??  ?? Perfect match: Peta Neitvelt riding Chance Taken.
Perfect match: Peta Neitvelt riding Chance Taken.

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