There was plenty of cheering as Influential Girl returned to scale at Moe on Thursday and whilst some of it was for the mare who deserved applause having won in such convincing fashion at her first run since the spring, most of it was for her jockey Carleen Hefel.
Her first day at the track as a jockey, a relative late comer to the ranks having her debut ride aged 29.
But she no newbie to horses, Hefel – along with her brother and sister – showing a love of the equine at a young age, her mum also joining in so that they could go eventing together.
It was a natural progression to riding track work which has now done for around ten years, gaining a job, through a friend, with Enver Jusufovic.
Always in the back of her mind was the idea of being a jockey and, having worked her way towards becoming an apprentice, she kicked off with Racing Victoria’s Apprentice Jockey Program in January, indentured to Julien Welsh.
Excited about her first day’s riding, Hefel was happy with the rides she had but not brimming with confidence and who could blame her – a winner on day one would surely be just too good to be true?!
But there is still such thing as a racing fairytale and as the race unfolded it was clear that Hefel was giving Influential Girl every chance, even if at first she thought she may have been “too far back.”
But with the racing brains of someone with more experience, Hefel did get too concerned as she realised that there was good pace on – “I thought, ‘I won’t panic and I will get to the outside.'”
Which is just what she did, smoothly steering Influential Girl out wide turning and once to the outside fence it was clear that the win was within her keeping – “she was travelling so well, I was pretty confident!”
Smiles as she crossed the line, all the way back to scale and for some time afterwards with Hefel ?
The stable’s Beth Schroen was just as delighted – “I don’t think I have been so excited by a win before!” she enthused.
“For us to give Carleen her first winner after she has done so much work for us is just sensational. She has always put in the hard yards, she is the first to front up every morning and she never complains.”
“She is a great rider with a lot of talent,” she continued – “all she needs now is rides and experience.”
Schroen was also proud of the horse, noting that she has returned from her spell “more mature – she really looks like a racehorse now.”
In the first four at all five of her runs to date, the daughter of our favourite stallion Magnus impressed breaking her maiden at Pakenham last November and looks to have a bright fugure.
Her dam is the talented race mare Influential Miss and several of her owners are also racing her promising daughter – much to their excitement! She won four races including a 1700m event at Flemington and Influential Girl is her first live foal with her second King Magnus trialling nicely recently.