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Bartley in sulky for Victoria

Rebecca Bartley was a content teenager when she secured a job with Shepparton trots trainer Steve O’Donoghue four years ago.

GUS UNDERWOOD February 22, 2013 4:20am

Rebecca Bartley will take on Australasia’s best young drivers next week.


Rebecca Bartley was a content teenager when she secured a job with Shepparton trots trainer Steve O’Donoghue four years ago.

A baptism in pony trotters had Bartley dreaming constantly of a career around horses and in the sulky.

But in her wildest dreams she didn’t anticipate how quickly it would all happen.

On Sunday the petite reinswoman, raised at Merrigum, flies to Sydney to experience her biggest week and thrill so far in the industry.

She has been selected to represent Victoria in the Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship.

This means pitting her driving and horse skills against some of the most promising young drivers Australia and New Zealand has to offer.

Bartley will be joined by another Victorian reinswoman, Ellen Tormey, who gets automatic entry into the five-meeting series as the reigning champion. Other states and the two New Zealand islands will have just the one representative.

Bartley admits she was pleasantly surprised when she learnt of her selection to represent Victoria in such a prestigious series.

‘‘It’s a big honour and it’s going to be a good life experience,’’ she said this week reflecting on her selection.

Bartley makes no secret she owes everything she has achieved to date to her boss and mentor O’Donoghue.

‘‘I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Steve,’’ she said.

‘‘He’s put trust in me and gave me a start, so I’m trying hard to repay his faith.’’

In four years under O’Donoghue’s tutelage, Bartley has driven more than 100 winners, a generous portion of them for O’Donoghue.

Her 100th winner aptly came up on the O’Donoghue-trained Bookkeeper at Albury in November.

But her reputation as a budding and competent reinswoman has grown and so has the interest of other trainers who have given her plenty of chances during the past two seasons.

She has proved particularly popular in the Sunraysia area and is a regular driver at Mildura meetings.

Bartley is preparing for a hectic week when she meets up with other championship aspirants at a base in Camden on Sydney’s outskirts on Sunday.

In between competing at five meetings throughout NSW next week, there is plenty of off-track entertainment to keep the title challengers busy away from the racetracks as well.

Drivers will compete in two heats at Goulburn on Monday, Menangle on Tuesday, Bathurst on Wednesday and Penrith on Thursday before going into one final heat on Inter Dominion final day at Menangle on Sunday week.

And, for Bartley, Monday just won’t come around quickly enough.

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