BMK 60 HCP: Grafton's Kiwi apprentice Olivia Pickering has been kicking down the door in recent weeks and she is ready to continue a stellar run of form when she saddles up three starters at Grafton today.
But her most important ride will come in the form of Ilia for her master Shane Everson in the Family Christmas Race Day December 3 B'mark 60 Handicap (1200m) which doubles as a heat of the Racing NSW Rising Star series.
Pickering sits equal third in the series, which is aimed at apprentice jockeys across the state, after a win in the most recent heat at Tamworth earlier this month.
That win was a special moment for the aspiring hoop with her mother across from New Zealand to watch.
"It was the first time Mum got to see me ride and I picked up a win, it was a really special moment,” she said.
"I didn't feel any extra pressure really, I was just happy that she was there with me.
"She always follows me, she tries to watch every race back in New Zealand or she will be messaging Shane asking how I went.
"That support is very important, because racing is a tough game at times, and not having your family there can make it even harder.”
Pickering's mother was a good luck charm for the jockey with her also netting a double at Coffs Harbour as well as a win in the Jacaranda Cup at Grafton the next day.
In fact the jockey has won four of her past 26 starts and placed in six in what has been a purple patch of her career.
"I am on a bit of a roll at the moment but it is racing and you have your highs and you have your lows,” she said.
"I just need to make the most of the high points.
"I feel like my confidence is right up there and my riding is improving with every start but you're only as good as the horses you ride.”
And she feels very confident about her mount today, with Pickering sharing a strong bond with the 6yo mare.
"I love that horse, she was my first win for Shane and I have not been out of the money on her,” she said.
"She is just an honest horse who always puts in her best effort.”
Ilia has drawn well out of barrier two and will face her biggest threat in last-start winner Eisemann (Toby Edmonds) and Julie Hodder- trained Cupid's Roze.