Jimmy Orman trades gym for track as he chases Chris Munce’s state record
JIMMY Orman started his sporting career on a pommel horse but has never looked back since catapulting on to the backs of 550kg racehorses.
The one-time gymnastics prodigy now finds himself aiming to vault records set by star jockeys such as Chris Munce, Zac Purton and Michael Rodd.
Orman, 18, recently rode his 100th Queensland winner for the season and could yet break Melbourne Cup-winning hoop Munce’s state record of 155 winners.
The young hoop leads the Brisbane metropolitan jockeys race and is on track to become the first apprentice to snatch the senior title since Purton and Rodd in the early 2000s.
At a time when many teenagers are scraping together enough money for their next beer, Orman’s stunning riding success has meant he has been able to buy a nice house on a two-acre property at Gatton.
There has been plenty of hard work and toil behind the scenes and he estimates he has driven 80,000km in the last 12 months to get to various racetracks.
Orman’s first ride that day was at 12.48pm on his mum Caroline Allardyce’s horse General Cos, on the Gold Coast, and his final ride was at 8pm in Toowoomba on Captain Adriatic.
‘‘I remember waking up that day and thinking I had a lot of driving and a fair bit of work ahead of me,’’ Orman said.
‘‘It was my best day in the saddle so far, my first Stakes win, but I was pretty exhausted by the end of it.
‘‘I wouldn’t normally ride on three tracks in one day but my mum’s horse was racing on the coast and she was pretty keen for me to ride it.’’
Orman is known as one of the hardest workers in the Queensland jockey scene and his motto could be: ‘‘Have saddle, will travel’’.
Since having his first race ride at Nanango in 2013, Orman has ridden at Birdsville, Betoota, Chinchilla, Cunnamulla, Eidsvold, Surat, Wondai and just about everywhere in between.
Orman is now pursuing a very different sporting dream to when the loose-limbed youngster strutted his stuff on the gymnastics floor.
‘‘I loved gymnastics, particularly the pommel horse and the rings, and I did pretty well at the national championships,’’ Orman said.
‘‘But there was one year when I didn’t qualify for the Australian side, and I got a bit cranky about that so I decided to give it away.
‘‘It all happened pretty quickly and it seems like just yesterday I had my first ride at Nanango.’’
Orman has the skill, work ethic and determination to make it as a senior jockey but the only thing holding him back might be his 170cm height.
He will almost certainly face a weight battle as his body matures but insists he is determined to carve out a long and successful riding career.
‘‘I know I will have to watch my weight, but it would be nice to think I could be riding for a long time yet,’’ Orman said.
‘‘I love the thrill of winning on a racehorse and it is a very addictive thing.
‘‘I also think my background in gymnastics was very good for my balance as a jockey.’’
Orman’s immediate future is exciting and he is jetting to Melbourne to ride in a National Apprentice Riders race at Sandown this week.
He will also embark on a three-week trip to Singapore this year, where he will ride work and in races, as a prize for winning the Queensland Racing Media Association’s UBET Rising Star last year.
The elite young jockey also has some nice rides to look forward to over the Queensland Winter Carnival, and is keen to hold his lead in the Brisbane metro jockeys race.
‘‘I think horses like Sold For Song, Emtevee Queen, Blue Desert Moon and Lock’s Legend can measure up to some races over the (Winter) Carnival,’’ Orman said.
‘‘And of course I would love to win the metro premiership. I’ll be trying my best, but I won’t be distraught if I don’t win.’’
Story courtesy Ben Dorries Brisbane Courier Mail