Blazing her own trail
IN A sport dominated by men, Samantha Munro has been blazing her own trail as a jockey throughout the Northern Rivers region.
The 20-year-old former Grafton, and now Taree-based hoop has a deep passion and love of horses and of course the sport of racing.
Being a jockey is a dangerous occupation. Guiding 500kg of horse flesh around a race track is not for the faint hearted.
Examiner sports reporter Gary Nichols had a chat with Munro to get the inside running on how she ended up in the racing game and what it's like being a female jockey.
What sort of girl were you growing up and what interested you besides horses?
Definitely a tomboy (laughs). I was mainly involved with horses but was also keen on athletics at school.
What was it that started a love of horses and at what age?
I grew up with horses through my mum and dad.
We lived out of town on a property at Woodford Island.
I started to ride when I could walk.
What was your first job on the race track and what do you remember about that experience?
I started riding trackwork at Grafton and really enjoyed it. It was great being around horses and meeting different people. I think I was about 16.
When did you decide to become a jockey in a male-dominated sport?
I did trackwork for a bit over 12 months and lost a lot of weight. My boss at the time, Terry Commerford said why not give it a go and I've been a jockey ever since.
Who taught you how to ride and what do you remember about your first race?
I had a lot of help from everyone at the Grafton track which I really appreciated.
My first race was a bit of a relief; I think I was more excited than nervous.
Your first win, what was it like and do you remember the horse?
It was at Coffs Harbour and it was enormous. The horse was She's Not Guilty which was trained by Joe Janiak who also owned and trained Takeover Target. I did have a bit of a celebration after the win.
Do you enjoy sticking it to your male counterparts, you know give them a serve now and then?
I've learnt to stand up for myself over the years and stand my ground. I don't take any cheap shots from them and I'm certainly not intimidated.
Is there much chat and niggle among jockeys during a race?
I wouldn't say there's any chat while you're racing it's more like if someone tightens you up and there's no room you usually give them a polite yell.
In general, do the guys treat you with respect both on and off the track?
Yes, they definitely respect me and treat me the same as any other jockey, even though I'm female.
What's the best advice you've received during your career?
Keep my head down and my bum up.
Who's the most inspirational Australian female athlete and why?
Being a jockey I'd have to say Kathy O'Hara. She's made a name for herself and is the only female jockey in Sydney who is doing great things.
I look up to her for what she's done for female jockeys in the country who are having a go.
You don't have to answer this one but do the trainers and owners slip you a sling from time to time and if not should they?