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