It’s been a long road to recovery for Seymour-based apprentice jockey Tahlia Hope, but the 19-year-old is looking at the Spring Racing Carnival with a renewed sense of optimism.
Ms Hope, the daughter and granddaughter of Seymour’s biggest and most successful trainers Shannon and Lee Hope, suffered a serious leg and ankle injury in a fall at jump-outs at Ballarat in early March.
The injury was so severe she had nine screws and a plate inserted in her smashed right ankle, tibia and fibula, and was forced to watch on from the sidelines for the better part of six months.
But it didn’t take long for Ms Hope to return to the winners’ list when she made her comeback to racing last month.
She was aboard the Hope-trained Dashing Declan for her first ride back at Wangaratta, in which she placed third, while stablemate Small Town Honey delivered the up-and-coming star her first win back from injury on her home turf at Seymour.
It was only her second meeting, and fourth ride back, but Ms Hope said she was relieved to get a winner on the board so early in her comeback.
‘‘I was probably a little bit nervous, but I just couldn’t wait for the day to ride again, to be honest,’’ Ms Hope said.
‘‘Six months was a long time to be out of action, so I was glad to be back.’’
While she’s not sure if she will be in the saddle on Godolphin Seymour Cup Day just yet, she certainly won’t be too far away from the action.
Ms Hope is this year’s cup ambassador and is looking forward to being a part of Seymour Cup Day after missing a large chunk of the year through injury.
‘‘We’re (the Hope stable) planning on having a couple of runners on cup day and I’ll be riding if we do have runners, but it’ll depend on what happens between now and then and barrier draws and things like that,’’ she said.
‘‘A lot of Melbourne trainers bring really decent horses to country races these days, so there is a lot of competition and races like the Seymour Cup are a big drawcard for a lot of the good trainers.
‘‘But even if I’m not racing, it’ll be nice to go around and mingle with everyone and just enjoy the day, because it’s always a great day at Seymour Cup.’’
This year, cup day will feature a nine-race program, culminating in the main event — the Godolphin Seymour Cup.
While the Hopes are yet to have a Seymour Cup winner — the last locally-trained winner was David Bourne’s Final Tempo back in 1998 — they are certainly no strangers to success on their home deck.
‘‘We have a lot of success at Seymour and also Kilmore, I think because it is our home track,’’ Ms Hope said.
‘‘There’s not a meeting that goes by where Dad and Pa don’t have at least one winner. They generally walk away with a couple of wins, which is nice.
‘‘Dad’s been trainer of the year eight or nine years running. He’s won every year we’ve been here, so the track has been very good to us.’’
●The Godolphin Seymour Cup Day will be held on October 22.
Gates open at 10.30am and shuttle buses will run to and from the Seymour station in the morning and afternoon.
Pre-purchased admission is $20, or entry is $25 at the gate.