by Ross Stanley
Hannah Phillips – who has four rides at Burrandowan on Saturday – landed her first career winner at Nanango on Easter Saturday.
Her mount was Kilgharrah, the Hidden Dragon gelding named after a fire-breathing creature from the days of King Arthur and Merlin.
The debutante juvenile was prepared for its easy success over the older maidens by Oakey conditioner Patrick Sexton.
“I wanted to be a jockey but Dad insisted that I complete tertiary studies first,” said the widely travelled Hannah, whose lifelong experiences with horses include playing polo in England.
Her dad, Nanango rigger and part-time trainer Barry Phillips, agrees.
“She was an excellent student, winning a Statewide $5,000 Deloitte award for a project assignment,” Barry said.
“I felt sure she would head into a job in Project Management or Human Resources after she graduated with her business degree from Griffith University in February 2013.
“I thought she would forget all about becoming a jockey. But she firmly reminded me about what I had said.”
Hannah had her first ride on a racehorse during her student days.
“We brought Ascot Doll out of the paddock.She was 21 years old – about Hannah’s age – and the old mare was part of her early education,” Barry recounted.
“Hannah broke in a Sirtatt gelding and he became involved in the process, too.”
During Phillips’ four months with trainer Barry Mitchell at Eagle Farm, Chris Munce also gave her guidance.
As well as registering her initial success on April 19 in Race 1, Hannah collected a second placing on Lisa Fashionista in Race 2, and later a third placing on the Peter Sexton trained Prince of Peace in Race 4.
It must have been an eerie moment for Barry when he tightened the girth on Lisa Fashionista for her Ergon Energy Handicap outing.
He hoisted Hannah into the same saddle he’d used during his own apprenticeship in Perth.
Hannah followed up a week later with another victory on Tornadoes at Chinchilla, with the Sel Andrews charge going within a whisker of winning again for the rookie rider at Dalby seven days later.
Hannah’s occupational building blocks were lining up encouragingly in April with her first two months in raceday silk producing a 2-6-2 podium summary.
Her goals and matching determination are cemented in place.
“The only frustration is that I am not a Group One jockey yet.
“A Melbourne Cup, a Stradbroke or a BRC Cup would be great,” she quipped.
On Saturday at Burrandowan, Hannah will again partner Tornadoes and she will also be aboard Peter Blackwell’s entry Glenthorn Avenue and Tom Moloney’s pair, Famechon Baroness and Longtimenosee.
Are there more wins in store for this promising young apprentice?
Only time will tell.
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Melody’s Modish Moments
Although jockeys frequently take needle eye-openings, Toowoomba rider Melody O’Brien has fashioned her own style when it comes to grabbing opportunities.
The former Tasmanian often puts a noteworthy hat into the car just in case there is a chance to add a run in the “Vogue Stakes” to her official book of rides.
“I won a fashion contest at the Devonport races when I was a strapper. Then I got a prize at Kilcoy last December,” Melody said.
“I also had time on my hands at Esk in April and thought I may as well have a go.
“I won $125, which was nearly another riding fee.”
O’Brien has been a Darling Downs resident for the past six years.
At the end of her apprenticeship in the autumn she’d chalked up 116 winners, including 49 at the provincials.
A particular highlight was an unbowed “four from four” at a Wandoan meeting.
When it comes to leisure, though, haute couture is not her favourite.
Melody’s prime fancy is long distance running.
She lines up for triathlons and has covered the Gold Coast half marathon.
And at Burrandowan this weekend, O’Brien has a full book of rides so she might not get time to put on her fineries.