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Female duo chasing Birdsville Cup history

By Glenn Davis

An all-female trainer-jockey combination is poised to etch their names in Birdsville Cup history on Saturday.

Oakey trainer Paula Cartledge and apprentice jockey Bridget Rooney will become only the second female duo to win the historic Birdsville Cup if Congelator is successful in the 1600-metre feature.

Perth based jockey Kayla Cross and trainer Heather Lehmann wrote their names in Birdsville Cup history as the only all female trainer-jockey combination to claim the iconic event with Moore Alpha in 2016.

Five-year-old Congelator has won eight of his 44 starts and is coming off a last start second to the Fasta Than Light in the Muster Cup at Gympie on August 18.

Congelator previously was runner-up over 1600 metres at St George on July 28 after claiming the Gunnedah Cup (1600m) on July 2.

Rooney, who celebrated her 21st birthday on Wednesday, started her career with Deagon trainer Pat Duff and has two months to serve on a three-month loan period with Miles trainer Bevan Johnson.

Rooney was delighted to pick-up the Birdsville Cup ride on Congelator.

“I’m really excited as it’s been a dream of mine to ride in the Birdsville Cup,” Rooney said.

Rooney has only been riding for less than 12 months and has ridden 15 winners on the country and provincial circuit.

With no family involvement in racing, she decided to try her luck as a trackwork rider which was advertised on Facebook.

“My family has no involvement in racing but I got a position as a track rider at Goondiwindi for a year before I moved to Pat Duff,” Rooney said.

“I've known Pat’s former apprentice Mandy Radecker since I was seven.

“I only started riding in May last year but I’ve had six months off in that time after breaking my hand last year then I had a trackwork fall and broke my leg in January,” Rooney said.

Rooney isn’t feeling the pressure of riding in the Birdsville Cup which will be telecast for the first time in its 136-year history by SKY Racing.

“It’s the first time I’ve ridden at Birdsville and hopefully I can win it,” she said.

“I didn’t know the history behind the race but it would be an honour if Paula and I can become only the second female combination to win it.

“I’ll be giving it my best shot.”

Racing Queensland webnews  August 30