Like any good jockey, Maddison Wright knew she needed to do her homework.
"Once I prepped her on how it's an actual job and I could do an apprenticeship in it she was really supportive," Wright said of the time she had to tell her mum she wanted to steer half-tonne thoroughbreds rather than finishing her HSC.
It should hardly come as a surprise. Ever since her mother bought her a pony as an eight-year-old, Gwenda Markwell's new apprentice hasn't been far from the equine species.
Pony club and polocrosse were the order of the day until she stumbled on to a chance to put a few horses through their paces at Moruya.
"A job popped up doing trackwork in Moruya and I thought I would do trackwork while I was finishing Year 12," Wright said. "I ended up doing an apprenticeship instead of finishing Year 12."
Between spending time with respected horseman John Law, Wright would often travel to Kembla for experience.
That's when the chance to join Markwell popped up, and now the talented hoop will spend at least three months with Kembla's leading lady with a view to making the move permanent.
"It's time to keep learning and she's the leading trainer up here, so it was probably the best stable to go to," Wright said.
"She's a great boss and she's got lots of horses.
"I want to definitely get rid of my country claim within 12 months."
Wright didn't take long endearing herself to her new boss, punching home the speedy Manjenine to a front-running win at Nowra for her 10th career win on Monday.
It was the same formula she used to win on Markwell's Midnight Ride at Kembla last month and one Markwell is hoping will be repeated many times over.
Pure power needs luck
Broken glass, black cats, walking under ladders – Nicole Molander reckons she must have had a brush with all given a shocking sequence of luck at Menangle yesterday.
First it started with reinsman Blake Fitzpatrick having to rush his wife to hospital as a result of a stable accident, which rendered him unavailable for the drive on Molander’s sole entrant Left Right Andcentre.
The replacement David White only lobbed a couple of minutes before start time and then was powerless to prevent the gelding galloping at the start and then throwing a show.
Needless to say, Left Right Andcentre was nowhere to be seen at the finish.
‘‘What could go wrong did go wrong,’’ Molander joked.
Yet Molander is a little more enthusiastic about her chances with stable stalwart Pure Power in a NSW heat of the Interdominion on Saturday night.
The 2013 Miracle Mile placegetter has been sandwiched between Victoria Cup hero For A Reason (barrier six) and Mach Beauty (eight) in the second qualifier.
Pure Power has been somewhat of a headline horse for Molander since she moved across the Tasman almost two years ago, but will start a $26 chance in his heat.
The order of the day for Molander? You guessed it - a little luck.
‘‘Hopefully he’ll just slot in somewhere there and not back last and second last like he has his last couple of runs,’’ the Appin-based trainer said of the tricky draw.
‘‘He’s been going great times and he’s sound as he’s ever been, but he’s the type of horse that needs to be in the right place at the right time. At that level they can all run fast times so draws and drives are paramount unless you’re an absolute superstar.’’
And he might have to conquer one of those if he’s to book his place in Australasia’s most coveted harness race on March 2.
Belinda McCarthy’s For A Reason was a dominant $1.60 favourite for the second heat last night and is expected to feature heavily on the Grand Circuit this season given Smoken Up and Im Themightyquinn are in the twilight of their careers.
Only the top two automatically qualify for the final from each NSW heat.
‘‘He’s a very, very good horse,’’ Molander conceded of For A Reason. ‘‘Hopefully we can follow him into it and be on his back. He’s obviously the best one to be following.
‘‘[But for us] it’s always nice to have a horse in the bigger races. It’s good to have him up there representing the stable in these bigger races and we’re just lucky to have him.’’
Trainer's condition improves
The Punt was heartened to hear the condition of Kembla Grange trainer Erwin Takacs has improved slightly as he continues to recover from a freak accident on Australia Day.
Takacs is understood to be showing encouraging progress, breathing unassisted on occasions and tolerating a reduction in his sedation. He remains on life support in a critical but stable condition.
‘‘He’s still on life support and they were able to reduce the medication, but he was responsive,’’ Racing NSW’s safety officer Maurice Logue said.
Takacs was found unconscious not far from a pool used to swim horses at Kembla Grange more than two weeks ago.
It’s believed a horse Takacs was trying to swim resented what he was being asked to do and dragged the trainer some distance from the pool.
The horse was later captured in a nearby street with the swimming pole still attached.
At Wollongong Hospital he underwent surgery for bleeding on the brain.