Bathurst is almost a second home for Eleanor Webster-Hawes and the Cowra based jockey is looking forward to riding at the Bathurst Cup meeting on Sunday, September 27 at Tyers Park.
A valued trackwork rider at Cowra for trainers Andrew Molloy, Michael Lynch and Kathryn Cahill, Eleanor also travels three times a week to ride work at Bathurst for Dean Mirfin and the father-son trainer partnership of Don and Andrew Ryan.
Somehow, Eleanor finds time for study at Charles Sturt University at Bathurst where she is halfway through a three year course to qualify as a Paramedic and of course there are race meetings to ride at over a wide area of New South Wales!
Eleanor Webster-Hawes has ridden 104 winners including success in some major races however there was not overly much in her family background to suggest a career as a jockey.
Her mother, Anastasia Webster-Hawes is an ordained Anglican priest now serving at Denman after a previous 8 year term in Blayney while her father, Donald Hawes was a draftsman working at the mines in Broken Hill and then, before retirement, an Industrial Arts teacher.
In the 140 year history of the Blayney parish Anastasia Webster-Hawes in 2011 became the first female Rector to be appointed and with husband Donald doing a lot of voluntary work in the area they became very popular.
Of the 8 children in her family, Eleanor was the only one interested in horse sports and she attributes her involvement to her grandfather, the late Ray Webster.
“ Grandad was a great horseman and stockman who rode at rodeos and he had me riding by the time I was about three years old “, Eleanor revealed.
“ I was mainly interested in educating horses but eventually did a TAFE course run by trainer Joan Pracey and began riding trackwork in the Hawkesbury area at Agnes Banks “she added.
Gaining an apprenticeship at Dubbo, Eleanor joined the Peter Nestor stable where David Pisani, Kody Nestor and Jake Pracey-Holmes were the other apprentices at the time.
( other successful apprentices tutored by Peter Nestor have included Kathy O’Hara, Tracy O’Hara and Chris Williams ).
Eleanor’s first winner was Atomic Food for local trainer Mick Cox at Coonabarabran however with so much competition for rides at Dubbo, she began making long trips to the far west to get mounts at Cobar, Broken Hill, Enngonia, Louth ,Pooncarie and to Cunnamulla in south west Queensland.
“ Wayne Prisk, a trainer at Cobar was a staunch supporter and regularly supplied me with mounts at the remote area meetings”, she recalls.
Parts of her apprenticeship were later served with, Dean Mirfin, Don and Andrew Ryan and Kathryn Cahill the sister of champion jockey Mathew Cahill.
“ Mathew has played a big role in improving my race riding with his advice but I still enjoy occasionally beating him home in a race including a recent close photo finish “ said Eleanor with a chuckle when referring to her long time partner.
Highlights so far for Eleanor include winning the $150,000 Country Championship at Mudgee on Cosmologist for owner Ross Williams and trainer Dean Mirfin.
A brave ride by Eleanor Webster-Hawes saw her steer the $51 outsider ( $160 TAB ) through torrential rain to a memorable victory.
Owned by Steven and Karen Deal and partners from Bathurst, the Dean Mirfin trained Worldly Pleasure became the first Metropolitan winner for Eleanor when successful at Canterbury.
“ Worldly Pleasure is a joy to ride and I was so pleased to see her judged as the Central Districts Horse Of The Year after her numerous other wins were taken in to account “. Eleanor commented.
At the other Sydney tracks Warwick Farm, Randwick and Rosehill she has also ridden the placegetters, Cosmologist, Ave and Somebody
Ave and Somebody were trained by Don and Andrew Ryan and raced by the Ryan family for whom Eleanor has ridden plenty of winners.
“ During my apprenticeship with them and now as a senior jockey the Ryan’s have always treated me like one of the family and have been wonderful supporters and friends,” said Eleanor Webster-Hawes.
Meanwhile at Cowra, Eleanor has a great relationship with trainer Andrew Molloy and his family and recently had a thrilling win at Wellington on the speedster Just A Flash which is trained by Andrew for Peter Evans from Orange.
“ Just A Flash is probably the fastest horse I have ridden and despite the outside barrier at Wellington amazed me with how easily he found the early lead against a field of very smart sprinters and then held on so well to beat the favourite Emilette a last start third placegetter at Randwick”, was the riders summation.
Another smart sprinter Eleanor has won good quality races on is Molasses, trained at Forbes by Dennis Bush for Danny Kotel from Grenfell.
Feature race winners for Eleanor have also included the Gilgandra Cup on Devilgate Road trained by Craig Martin from Tamworth and the Collie Cup at Gilgandra on the Dean Mirfin trained Art ‘N’ Ollie.
Eleanor recently became a part of racing history in New South Wales as one of the first to be granted a dual trainer-jockey licence, a career path also taken by Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne.
Nominations for the Bathurst meeting featuring the Ray White Emms Mooney Bathurst Showcase Cup (1800 metres ) and the $80,000 Panorama over 1300 metres on Sunday, September 27 close at 11am Tuesday, September 22.
Like a breath of fresh air a brand new race, the Panorama, arrived on the scene last year and was run at the time honoured Bathurst Cup meeting.
The inaugural running of the $40,000 Panorama was won in brilliant style by the four year old mare Press Box owned by Tony Muollo and family and ridden by Robbie Dolan for Bathurst trainer Dean Mirfin.
Press Box came to Dean Mirfin from Sydney stables as a Maiden Class galloper and in a bright beginning for the talented Bathurst trainer won three races in succession at Bathurst ( twice ) and Parkes before finishing third at Randwick.
Starting the $2.70 favourite, Press Box dashed to the lead in the straight when beating Bravissimo and Sugar Dance In the 2019 Panorama.
Gaining a start in the $1.3 million Kosciuszko, the richest race in the world for country trained horses, at Royal Randwick, Press Box produced an outstanding performance to finish sixth behind the winner Handle The Truth and has since been retired to stud.
Prizemoney has been doubled to $80,000 for the 2020 Panorama over 1300 metres to be run on Sunday September 27 on Bathurst Cup day and Dean Mirfin confidently predicts the feature Sprint will quickly become a major event on the country racing calendar.
“ The timing of the race is a master stroke by Bathurst Turf Club and Racing NSW as a perfect lead up for the Kosciuszko at Royal Randwick on October 17“, said Dean Mirfin.
“ I think trainers from everywhere will be hoping to get a runner in the Panorama and I predict the leading stables from around country New South Wales will be at Bathurst”, Mirfin added.
Although Sydney, Provincial and Interstate horses are eligible for nomination they will be first eliminated in a ballot under the special conditions of the race.
( This will in all probability see the final field comprised of country trained horses,).
Dean Mirfin gained invaluable experience working for legendary trainers Tommy ( TJ ) Smith and Bart Cummings and after being away from racing for a number of years set up as a trainer at Bathurst where he first won an 1800 metres race with Sparton in 2012.
Now firmly established as a leading trainer Dean Mirfin has prepared many good gallopers including Cosmologist, Worldly Pleasure, Press Box, Jetgirl, Oywotzy, Oceanic, Alcatran, Dash Express, Repentant, Sovereignaire, Art’n’Ollie ,Skipper Joe, Super Pig, Run Sally Run,Electrified, Tale Of The Kraut, and I Am Capitan.
Ridden by Cowra jockey Eleanor Webster-Hawes and racing in the cerise and blue Superhorse colours of prominent owner Ross Williams, Cosmologist at long odds won the $150,000 Heat of the Country Championship in driving rain at Mudgee.
Eleanor Webster-Hawes who regularly travels from Cowra to ride trackwork for Don and Andrew Ryan and Dean Mirfin, rode her first Sydney winner on the Mirfin trained mare Worldly Pleasure.
Winner of a string of races over the season Worldly Pleasure was awarded the Central Districts “ Horse Of The Year “ title and the trophy will be presented to the Bathurst based owners Steven and Karen Deal and partners on Bathurst Cup Day.
Zaonkonig ( Brendan Ward ) from the high profile Sydney based trainer partnership of Richard and Michael Freedman won the September 2020 Ray White Emms Mooney Bathurst Cup from Magic Over The Bay and Colonial Reign.
At this stage Dean Mirfin is planning to be represented by Hamogany in the 1600 metres Cup and Worldly Pleasure in the Panorama.
Nominations for Bathurst Showcase Meeting on Sunday September 27 close at 11am Tuesday 22.9.20.