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 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.
Hafizullah Mohaqiq was born in Afghanistan, spent periods living in Pakistan and Iran, before arriving in Shepparton two months ago.
The Mulwala Lions had satisfying and hard fought win, in difficult conditions, against last year’s grand finalists at Lonsdale Reserve on Saturday.
The Fairley Leadership Program met in Tatura on Wednesday, exploring ‘Water and our catchment’ at Goulburn Murray Water.
Road authorities have made little progress to fixing Echuca’s most dangerous intersections.
Lockington Vintage Tractor and Stationary Engine Rally is on for the 18th time this weekend and there is something for everyone.
Kyabram and District Sportstar of the Year nominations finalised
Three local clubs get together at Kings Park.
Tributes flow for Finley's inspiring mother, friend and farming advocate Jennifer Hawkins
A visit by Coliban Water to Heathcote last week provided residents with a chance to quiz staff about water and sewer services.
A new book, Men from the River Bends, honours Cobram-Barooga and district soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice after enlisting in World War 1.
Deniliquin bowler Dennis O'Keefe lost 25-19 in his bid for a quarter-final spot in the Victorian Singles Championships this week.
Widespread rain late last week and on Saturday put a smile on the faces of farmers preparing to sow crops or waiting for weeds to emerge on early-sown rye-grass.
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