It was a joyous occasion for 19-year-old apprentice Kiran Quilty and her father Cameron when they finally rode in the same race together for the first time at Kyneton on New Year’s Day.
But behind the thrill of Kiran winning the 1850m TAC Be Races Ready BM52 Handicap with a fast-finishing dash alongside the inside on Voodoo Queen is a story of remarkable perseverance and will to overcome injury setbacks.
“Dad’s taught me everything I know, and it’s a passion (being a jockey) I grew up with,” Kiran said.
From Broadford, Kiran rode in Shetland pony races and took part in show jumping and pony club at a very young age; at 14, she was riding trackwork for Kilmore trainer Jody Thompson.
A dislocated shoulder sidelined her for seven months, until finally under Racing Victoria’s Apprentice Jockeys Program, Kiran began her dream of race riding early last year, being apprenticed to Shane Nichols at Mornington.
Her third winner came for Kyneton trainer George Osborne, aboard his stable star Reine Happy at Bendigo.
Then a fall at Pakenham resulted in hospitalisation, and it took seven months before Kiran returning to riding in Boxing Day.
Keen to learn and work hard, Kiran hopes she can eventually be good enough to ride in a Melbourne Cup – inspired by the success of Michelle Payne being the first female rider to win the big race in 2015 on Prince of Penzance.
At the age of 47, Cameron Quilty epitomises the ‘Have Saddle – Will Travel’ work ethic philosophy of many of the battling jockeys who are so important in the industry.
Chalking up nearly 200 winners since 1998, he has ridden at nearly every track in Victoria, and in southern New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
“I think Coleraine is the only track in Victoria I haven’t been to,” he said.
“I’m lucky I don’t have weight problems, and keep fit …. I hope to still be riding at 50,” he declared.
Quilty rides trackwork and in jump outs on a regular basis, and is used to being on longshots at various venues.
His career hung in the balance when a horse reared over backwards and pinned him against a fence at Mildura in September 2018. He had ridden the oddly named Lifeinthefasttrain and Seduce Me Now that day before the bad break in his left arm occurred.
Complications resulted in a wrist reconstruction, and he was out of the saddle for nearly two years.
Quilty admits the chance to be able to ride again, in the same races as his daughter, was a motivation to make a comeback rather than retire.
He rode Doctor Timor in the Kyneton race won by Kiran on Voodoo Queen, which struck interference and was last for much of the journey.
“I didn’t expect her to be that far back,” trainer Robert Kingston said, expressing delight that Kiran did not panic and secured a rails run to snatch victory on the $3.80 chance.