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Busuttin’s breakthrough win caps off big month for family

5 July 2024

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By Andrew Smith

Patrick Busuttin has had many memorable moments across his long career but watching daughter Julie ride her first winner last weekend trumped them all.

The apprentice jockey notched her maiden victory on Viking Valour at Gatton in the QTIS Three-Year-Old Maiden Plate on Saturday.

It was just her fifth race meeting and 12th start in the saddle for the 18-year-old after she debuted at Beaudesert in early June.

Julie could not contain her excitement after saluting at the Lockyer Valley Turf Club.

“It was great, it was such a thrill - I couldn’t stop smiling,” Julie said.

“He was quite an easy horse to ride, he jumped well and he put himself up there, and we were just up with the leader all the way.

“He made it quite easy for me, he did everything himself.”

Julie Busuttin crosses the post in Gatton (Photo: Grant Peters - Trackside Photography).

Julie is indentured to father Patrick at Deagon, but was on board the gelding trained by Pat Duff for the 860m trip.

“He was really happy with the ride, and the owners were very happy,” Julie said.

“The owners are lovely people, they were the first people on the phone.

“It was so great riding for someone like Pat Duff - he’s been such a big part of racing in Queensland, and he’s real known for supporting apprentices too, so it was great for him to be a part of it.”

Patrick Busuttin Next Racing
Pat Duff Next Racing
Julie and Viking Valour at Gatton (Photo: Greg Irvine).

Champion hoops Jimmy Orman and Robbie Dolan were among those to congratulate the schoolgirl, seeking out the youngster to pass on their praise at Thursday morning’s barrier trials at Doomben.

But it was the reaction of dad Patrick post-race on Saturday that gave Julie the biggest satisfaction.

“He was a fountain of tears after the race, he was so happy and very proud,” Julie said.

Patrick was beaming with pride as he watched trackside at Gatton with Julie’s 13-year old brother (also called Patrick), cheering her home as she held on for the breakthrough win.

“It was a big thrill, we’re very proud of her - she puts in such an effort, still going to school and up at 3 every morning and from there straight to the stables, and then after school every afternoon,” Patrick said.

“She really deserved it.

“I’ve had some great moments in my career and that was right up there with them watching her win that race.”

Julie and Patrick Busuttin after the win at Gatton (Photo: Greg Irvine).

Julie will be back in the saddle on Whatta Whitt for her father on Saturday in Beaudesert, and will also take the ride on the Michael Lakey-trained Little Iffy.

She also has two engagements booked for Kilcoy on Tuesday.

Her win has capped off a dream run for the Busuttin clan.

Patrick trained his first winner in over a year in May at the Sunshine Coast, with Likeabeel getting the money in a Benchmark 58 Handicap.

The gelding then backed it up to take out a Benchmark 78 Handicap on Ipswich Cup day two weeks ago.

“We only had about four or five runners in that 12 months, but it was good to get back in the winner’s circle,” Patrick said.

“It’s been a great couple of weeks, I just hope it keeps rolling along like that, especially for Julie.

“It’s more just I’m doing it for my own enjoyment at the moment but she’s got her whole career ahead of her and I just want to see her keep going good.”

Julie Busuttin after the win (Photo: Greg Irvine).

Patrick said Likeabeel had been a “very, very slow maturing horse” but had come into 2024 looking big and strong for the first time.

The eight-year-old will go around again at Eagle Farm in a 2231m race next Wednesday before a likely trip south.

“He went out for a big spell and came back in and that was the aim all along for the race at Ipswich - the whole preparation just came into place and he was in the right form and his work leading into it was terrific,” Patrick said.

“Providing he performs - which I’m sure he’s going to - he’s held his form good and there’s a good race at Rosehill for his grade.

“It’s worth a bit of money ten days after Eagle Farm and we’ll probably get down there for that.

“He’s the sort of horse that we don’t want to aim too high with him.

“He’s not a top-class horse but any grade over a bit of ground he’s very, very competitive so we just try and keep him to that grade at the moment.”

Julie and Likeabeel after the win on Ipswich Cup day.

On top of training his own team of horses and mentoring Julie, Patrick has for the last year worked for Racing Queensland in a casual capacity as an Industry Mentor.

He works closely with stable hands and beginners to the sport to teach them stable work and tasks around handling horses.

“That’s my main focus at the moment, apart from Julie of course,” Patrick said.

“I really enjoy mentoring those young kids that want to be involved in the industry and it’s the first job I’ve had other than working for myself since I left school.

“I’ve found it really enjoyable - the guys in the RTO department are great, they have a great team there who are all committed to the industry.

“It’s really great to be part of it.”