FUTURE CLEAR AS A BELL
THE schoolboy who used to do odd jobs to save the fare for a 17-hour bus ride to shovel horse poo out of a stable box has come a long way.
But Brisbane’s premier rider Tim Bell wants to go further. Much further.
A year after winning his first Group 1 on Tinto in the Queensland Oaks, Bell is not only dreaming about winning back-to-back riding premierships but also conquering the world.
Just like Zac Purton and Michael Rodd in the early 2000s, Brisbane might not be big enough for this hugely talented young jockey.
“Long term, I do want to crack it on the world stage, whether that be overseas or in Sydney or Melbourne,’’ Bell said.
“There is a blueprint set for me with the likes of Purton and Rodd who have had incredible success and are two of the world’s greatest riders.
“Without a doubt I want to follow in their footsteps but I am very ambitious and I’d like to one day be even better than them.’’
Bell’s fabulous success in Brisbane has not come without some stumbles.
Last year he feared he had ruined his career when he crashed his car, got nabbed for drink driving and was fined and disqualified from driving for nine months.
It was not his finest moment but it may have proved a blessing in disguise.
With the unflinching support of mum Keiley and dad Grant, the 22-year-old knuckled down and vowed not to stuff things up again.
Bell is determined not to fall into the same trap as other young riders who have earned lots of cash quickly but let it go to their heads.
To help ensure he stays grounded, his mum manages his finances.
“I’m very blessed that Mum manages my money. If I want to get some money out or buy something nice it has got to go through her first, both of us have to agree on it,’’ he said.
“I didn’t hit that bad patch that a lot of apprentices do when they come out of their time and they see their bank balances.
‘’I know a lot of apprentices fail to kick on but I have a lot of great mentors and that starts with my parents.
“I found a bit of trouble with my car accident but the only way to overcome that is by riding winners.
“I’m quite strong-minded and I was able to put the trouble to the back of my mind and focus even harder on riding winners.’’
Bell calls Queensland home these days but still considers himself a New South Welshman after growing up in Narrabri before moving to Tamworth. He got hooked on riding through his uncle Adrian Garroway, a Victorian jumps jockey, and travelled long distances by road on school holidays to get an early taste of the industry.
“I was 14 years old and living in Narrabri, riding around the shows and doing a bit of steer riding,’’ Bell said.
“Then I bit the bullet. I said I wanted to be a jockey and to be the best I had to start early.
“The only racing person in my family was my uncle so I used to jump on the bus to Mornington in Victoria for a long 17-hour ride.
“We lived on a farm so I’d go next door and do a bit of stick-picking to earn some cash for the bus fare.
“It was hard work at the stables, that’s where the racing bug came into my blood.’’
Bell is regarded as one of the most promising young jockeys in Australia but pays quick tribute to country galloper Border Rebel for putting him on the map.
Bell was riding in the NSW bush before trainer Sue Grills sent her sprinter to Sydney.
Border Rebel won six in a row in the city and big-name trainers were quickly asking about the 48kg jockey.