Trainer Gai Waterhouse a fan of top jockey Tegan Harrison’s proactive approach
EVEN before Tegan Harrison slips into the saddle of Group 1 contender Echo Gal at Doomben on Saturday, Gai Waterhouse has been impressed by her boldness.
Racing’s first lady Waterhouse casts an imposing shadow over the entire industry but Brisbane’s leading female jockey has not been daunted.
“Tegan isn’t scared to pick up the phone and talk to me, and I really like that,’’ Waterhouse told The Courier-Mail.
“She is a quick-thinking rider and she is in great form. I want quick thinking jockeys and I want in-form jockeys and she ticks both of those boxes.’’
Former champion apprentice Harrison has a growing association with Waterhouse, having ridden stayer Excess Knowledge for her at the Gold Coast last weekend.
It is a blossoming working relationship which started last year when Harrison rode track work for Waterhouse on several of the stable’s Winter Carnival hopefuls.
Harrison is starting to make other friends in high places, winning the Listed Silk Stocking on Eloping last Saturday for Sydney trainer and former jockey Peter Robl.
Far from being a shrinking violet, Harrison has enjoyed talking to Waterhouse about racing generally and Saturday’s assignment on $40 outsider BTC Cup mare Echo Gal.
“Gai is one of those great characters in racing that I am really inspired by,’’ Harrison said.
“To just be talking to her is a real thrill for me, let alone riding for her.
“I rode a lot of her horses at track work leading up to the (Queensland) Group 1s last year and from there she has given me a few rides.
“But the only reason I am in that position is because of the incredible support I have received from Brisbane trainers over the last few years.’’
Harrison has never ridden a Group 1 winner but has been painstakingly close on two occasions, when Temple of Boom was narrowly pipped on the post in both the 2014 Doomben 10,000 and Stradbroke Handicap.
Despite being rated an outsider by the bookies, Echo Gal has the renowned Waterhouse polish and a form line which includes a second behind Catkins in a Group 3 race at Rosehill last September.
Harrison insists she isn’t nervous riding for one of the biggest names in the history of Australian racing.
“I get this thing with big Group 1 races where I don’t get nervous at all, I just simply enjoy it and lap it up,’’ Harrison said.
“I get excited and embrace the whole atmosphere of riding in a Group 1, there is really no other feeling quite like it.
“I have run second in two Group 1s and been beaten a nose both times. I sometimes think what a huge difference it would have made to my life if the head-bob had gone the other way.
“This time, I am just aiming to get that head-bob right.’’
Story courtesy Ben Dorries Brisbane Courier Mail