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Apprentice Doolan closing in on race riding debut

118226280-1357028277836672-7864468096577228803-n.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

When the 2022 Mackay Cup rolls around, Jade Doolan is almost certain to have another string to her bow in the racing industry.

Already a track work and jump-out rider, as well as training in her own right and working for experienced Mackay trainer John Manzelmann, Doolan is just a few short months away from making her debut as an apprentice jockey.

At 32 years of age, Doolan has taken much longer than most to get started on an apprenticeship as a hoop, holding several different roles in the industry in her life, as well as being a veterinary nurse.

As the Manzelmann stable often hold up meetings in North Queensland with their big numbers of runners, it was conversation between the trainer and Doolan that eventually pushed her to pull the trigger after battling to get riders for all their starters one weekend.

The daughter of the late Cairns-based trainer George Doolan had often thought about becoming an apprentice but worried about getting her weight down to a suitable level, not believing she could achieve it.

“Looking back on it now, I probably regret not doing it years ago when I first started with John,” Doolan said.

“I never thought I would be good enough to do it in races, but I have always done John’s horses in jump outs over the last four or five years now.

“I have always done jump outs when I needed to and I only did that because Mackay is always short of riders.

“As I rode more jump outs and we have a few naughty horses in the stable, as well, I have got them to the track where other people have at times struggled too.

“I just said to John one day when we were short of riders, “bloody hell, if I had my licence then I could ride them instead of scratching” and he just said, “why don’t you get your licence?”.

“It has just gone on from then I have done it.”

Doolan was around 65kgs when she started working towards becoming a race riding jockey and is now down around the 58-59kgs range and is hoping to get down to 56kgs.

She stresses that becoming a jockey will be a hobby, on top of working for the Manzelmann yard, as she is only likely to ride at non-TAB meetings when the stable struggles to get jockeys for their usually huge numbers of runners.

With the 2021 Mackay Cup to be run this Saturday at Ooralea Racecourse, there is the outside chance we might see Doolan riding on the big day in the Sugar City this time next year.

204601932-10223824447616833-6770785015008236308-n.jpgTo eventually be riding in races, Doolan has spent time at Deagon, riding in recent trials and spending time around the Pat Duff and Neil Hocking stables to learn from them, as well as using the mechanical horse with Racing Queensland’s jockey coaches.

While she has not put an official date on her debut, Doolan is hopeful to be riding within the next few months and certainly before the end of the year.

Trainer Manzelmann recently remarked to the rookie jockey that she had improved out of sight following her stints at Deagon. 

As is the case for all regular track work riders that aim step up to become jockeys in races, it is a massive step between the two – with Doolan aiming to be as confident as she can be before she eventually gets out there on race day.

“I have done a stack of jump outs at Mackay and at Deagon the other day, I rode against some good jockeys and in bigger fields than what you get in Mackay – it is just a whole different ball game,” Doolan said.

“It was a big eye opener for me and I think it is a massive advantage for me to be going to Deagon and riding in bigger fields.

“That helps me get a good feel of it before I get out on the track properly, I want to be confident and ready before I start.”

At this Saturday’s $150,000 Mackay Cup, the Doolan and Manzelmann camp have Cup runner Cinnamon Missile – one of their 16 gallopers accepted for the big day.

Chelsea Jokic takes the ride of Cinnamon Missile in the Cup, to be run over 2000 metres – being the last of eight races from Mackay on Thursday, and the stable believe the six-year-old gelding is a big chance on his recent form.

“He has been a really honest horse, he is always around the money,” Doolan said.

“He has not been beaten far in his last few and his run the other day at Mackay was super.

“Hopefully we can get some luck in running on Saturday.”