Jaylah Kennedy, the daughter of Wingatui trainers Terry and Debbie Kennedy, has been accepted for the prestigious Racing Victoria Apprentice Jockey Training Program.
“We are thrilled. It is a great achievement as there were only nine accepted for the program this year, seven girls and two boys,” the Kennedys told the Otago Racing Club website.
“Jaylah works really hard. She has got her weight stabilised at round 51kg and is up at 3 am most mornings to attend the gym for an hour before riding work.”
Jaylah, who turns 21 on Tuesday (March 22), is apprenticed to the Ballarat trainer Dan O’Sullivan. She has been riding work for the stable for four years. “She originally wanted to be a policewoman when she left school but was told to get some life skills and then apply,” said Debbie. “She got the job riding track work in Ballarat and decided she would like to be a jockey.”
Debbie said Dan (O’Sullivan) and his wife, Mel had been “like second parents” to Jaylah.
Jaylah had been educated at St Mary’s School in Mosgiel and Taieri College. She had ridden ponies and done some work with thoroughbreds in her parents Carefree Stables.
The Racing Victoria AJTP is over four years. The selection process is aimed at the best athletes who will progress to high class senior jockeys. The participants are certified for riding track work and race riding and receive coaching and undertake paperwork. The program is conducted in conjunction with the Victoria Institute of Sport and Exercise Research Australia.
Debbie and Terry are both former jockeys with their fathers also jockeys. Debbie was apprenticed to her father Hec at Wingatui and won 209 races. She won the principal race on the ORC calendar, the White Robe Lodge Handicap on Random Choice(1995) and Nearly Pal’s (1996). Terry won some 350 races, serving two years of an apprenticeship with his father, Bryan at Wingatui and two years with Evan Rayner at Wanganui. He won the 1987 Napier Park Centennial Handicap on Classic Bay and the 1989 Benson and Hedges Gold Cup at Riccarton on Prince Kumai. He rode winners over fences.
The Kennedy stable has won 196 races from Hastings to Riverton. Princess Brook, Mr Toff, Lesley Brook, Miss Millbrook(2009 Dunedin Guineas) and Ray’s In Command are among the winners they have trained. Debbie rides track work on a regular basis, having retained a light weight. She turns 51 next Tuesday on Jaylah’s birthday. The Kennedys have two other children, Bailey (24) and Jonty (18). Bailey is working for Byerley Park (Karaka) trainer Steven Cole after completing a commerce and business degree at University of Otago and Jonty (18) is an apprentice electrician.