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Montana’s horse racing career is off and running

Exocet Rocket horse
Young apprentice jockey Montana Philpot rides her first race winner, aboard Exocet Rocket in the Greg Whalley Dental Benchmark 60 Handicap at the Catholic Schools Race Day on Saturday.

A star may have been born with apprentice jockey Montana Philpot riding home two winners at the Bundaberg Catholic Schools thoroughbred race meeting on Saturday.

Montana booted home her first winner in just her 10th race ride aboard Exocet Rocket in the Greg Whalley Dental Benchmark 60 Handicap before making it a double with another superb race on Lieutenant in the next event, the Bob Gallagher Memorial Benchmark 55.

The young rider's parents Gus and Donna were both highly successful jockeys throughout Queensland, with Gus continuing that success as a trainer.

The couple moved from Rockhampton to Bendigo in 2014 for their elder daughter Jessie to be part of the Racing Victoria Apprentice Jockey Training Program.

Donna, who continued to ride trackwork for Gus and other Bendigo-based trainers, was tragically killed in a fall while riding in a jump-out in June 2017.

Montana completed her schooling in Bendigo, but returned to the Sunshine State last year, following her parents into the dangerous game and linking with top Sunshine Coast trainer Stuart Kendrick to race for his Kendrick Racing Stables.

Montana made her race debut at Miles on February 13, also riding at Roma a week later and Emerald on March 2.

When she arrived in Bundaberg last Saturday, she had eight rides for one second placing and a third to her name.

Montana was unplaced on Turf Tiger in the opening event on the program, the Smiling Wide Orthodontics QTIS Maiden Plate, but then took the mount on Exocet Rocket for Rockhampton trainer Kevin Miller.

She rode a perfectly judged race to get the money, with the gelding outgunning favourite Sherwood Prince and local hope Crisscross.

Montana then partnered last-start Emerald winner Lieutenant for another Rockhampton mentor Stephen Rundle.

After he was sent out the favourite, paying $2.30, the gelding, with Montana onboard, won the race in a canter, 6.75 lengths in advance of Red Hana, which made a promising debut for top Bundaberg trainer Darryl Gardiner.

While the delightful young horsewoman had dual cause for celebration, Darryl went a second successive Bundaberg meeting without a winner after the placings of Crisscross and Red Hana, then the shock failure of local idol Ten Taubada’s, which was sent out a hot favourite in the next event, the Charltons Lawyers Open Handicap, but finished last of five.

It was the third race in a row that Ten Taubada’s had been upstaged by a runner trained by Kym Afford, of Wondai, beginning when Kym’s Elusive Element edged him out in the Bundaberg Gold Cup on September 5.

Then Gossiaux relegated Ten Tebaud’s into second place when he was resuming from a spell on January 31, before Gossiaux again got the money on Saturday, ridden by Bundaberg Cup winning mature-age apprentice Shannyn Stephan.

The superbly bred three-year-old filly Celebrating, which has a double-cross of the great Bletchingly, as well as other siring superstars including Sadler’s Wells, Flying Spur and Octagonal in her bloodlines, won the Maiden Plate for Gympie trainer Cherie Vick, with Kelly Gates in the saddle, after having placed second and third respectively at its previous two meetings on the track.

Another regally bred three-year-old filly Champagne Spirit, which has other breeding glamour sires including Snitzel, Encosta de Lago and Zabeel in her pedigree, gave apprentice Isabella Teh a winner at her first Bundaberg meeting in the Waves Sports Club Coast to the Country Class B at her first start for Sunshine Coast trainer Alan Robinson.

It was Isabella’s eighth win from 115 rides since starting her apprenticeship with Danny Bougoure Racing in Brisbane in August last year.

Back in 2014, as an 18-year-old, Isabella was the youngest person in Australia to hold an Arabian trainer's racing license and, after starting her career in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Series, she was then an internationally ranked jockey.

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