Baby, she was born to run on the track
RACING: There is no doubt emerging rider Leah Kilner was born to be part of the racing industry.
With the Kilner name ingrained in the Grafton racing records, Leah is the daughter of jockey turned trainer Greg Kilner and great niece of racing stalwart Hunter Kilner.
The 19-year-old has always been involved in horses and only this year made the big decision to follow her lineage into the industry as she aims to become a fully-fledged jockey. But it was not an easy decision with a fair bit of push back over the years by her father.
"I always wanted to go to university and I was always pretty good at school, but racing was just that one thing that never left me,” Kilner said. "I rode all my life and as soon as I turned 18 I started riding trackwork.
"I could have started when I was 15, but Dad just kept telling me I was too young. He wants me to do it, and he has always supported me, but he knows how hard it can be and the risks.”
But the young rider was relentless in her quest, asking for permission every year until she would no longer take no for an answer.
"When I turned 18 I decided he didn't get to tell me no any more,” she said.
"I have had about a year in the saddle and I started my trials about March this year.
"Once I started fast paced work and gallops and unofficial jump-outs I was loving it and ready to make that next step.
"Going from a jump out to a trial was a big step, as will going from trials to racing will be but it is a lot of fun and I just love it.”
Kilner has taken a lot of guidance from those who have gone through the ranks before her in Lawrence jockey Tegan Harrison and Cassie Schmidt.
While she has completed the required 20 trial runs to get her apprentice license, Kilner was turned down by stewards earlier this week who want her to get a bit more experience - a request she has no issue with.
"I am getting to that stage where trials are going a little slow and I feel like I need to take the next step so I can learn more,” she said. "But I would like to do a few more just to know that I am definitely ready for it.
"I will be race riding before Christmas though.”
Kilner has ridden plenty of trackwork for her dad, but has also picked up rides for local trainers Greg Howells, Todd Fletcher and Gordon Yorke.
"I am pretty lucky in that sense,” she said. "Because of dad, we know a lot of people and we have got a lot of support from trainers all around the region.”
Kilner hopes to pick up a couple of more trial runs at Grafton tomorrow.