Rachel King Vega One Stradbroke Handicap
Rachel King joked seven years ago she couldn’t even find Queensland on a map, now the English-born jockey has a chance to win his biggest race with the state’s first trainer.
King will drive Vega One in Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on Saturday, marking a milestone in his journey after his first arrival in Brisbane in 2014 as a track and field driver for Gai Waterhouse.
The only newcomer to Australia, King was sent to Queensland by Waterhouse for a week that turned into three months in what was an eye-opening trip as to the size of Australia.
“I didn’t even know where Queensland was,” she said with a laugh.
“I was in Australia for about three months and we got in the float and I asked the guys how long to go and they said ‘by tomorrow’ – I was shocked.
“I did the winter carnival for Gai and we had a bunch of winners – Almalad (JJ Atkins) and Cosmic Endeavor (Tatts’ Tiara) won Group 1.
“I wanted to be there to ride them, but I did all the work in the morning, I was here for about three months.
“I didn’t take enough clothes, Gai said we were going for a week and it ended up being three months.”
While originally booked to ride boom horse Ayrton on Saturday, King was quick to change course when the three-year-old failed to qualify after being ridden low odds in the Fred Best Classic a week ago.
With Jamie Kah determined to return home to Victoria, King saw an opportunity aboard Vega One and now she’s looking to grab it with both hands.
“I was watching (Ayrton’s race) in Sydney and saw at the top of the straight how he was doing and I thought he was not going to sprint well,” she said.
“I had just been in a race and I rushed over to watch him, and then when he got beaten up I thought ‘well, it happens.’
“By the time I left the races my manager said he had been on the phone with several different people.
“The next morning it was obvious that Jamie was probably going to go back to Melbourne and that it was unlikely he could come back, so it was there.”
King had his first success at Eagle Farm on Saturday with four laps, including a third aboard Rocha Clock.
Currently third in the Sydney Jockeys Premiership, King has given up on plum rides to make the trip north but is hoping it will be worth it in the $ 1.5million Stradbroke.
“Most of the time, I haven’t come to these kinds of carnivals because I have really good walks in Sydney because everyone is away,” she said.
“This time I wanted to take the opportunity, so when I knew I was going to come for Stradbroke Day, I wanted to come a week earlier.”
King will also climb Brandenburg in the $ 1.2 million Q22 that day.