Apprentice jockey Desiree Stra returned to the saddle in September, following a long break. After a number of minor placings, she broke back into the winner’s circle at Strathalbyn last week – via a successful protest – aboard Shellshocked for local trainer Gordon Richards. It was her 27th ride since making her return. Prior to her comeback, Desiree last’s race ride in Australia was back in 2014. In between, Desiree (or ‘Desi’) visited her jockey sister Kayla in the US, then returned to Australia and has worked for a number of local trainers, including Paula Trenwith. On Saturday, Desiree won the Ceduna Cup on Givepeace A Chance for trainer Des Courtney. Afterwards she had a chat with TRSA.
Congratulations on the Cup win.
Thanks. Yeah, it was great day. Ceduna puts on a good show. It was my third country cup win. I’ve won the Hawker Cup, the Roxby Cup, and now the Ceduna Cup. There might be a Broken Hill one in there too, the Silver City Cup, for Paula Trenwith. But it was good to add to the collection.
Why such a long break from riding?
I went to America and came back. I had to get my weight right and life just got in the way.
How long have you been planning this riding comeback?
Since January last year. It took me a while. I just started off slowly, riding one or two horses, for Paula Trenwith, and it kind of went from there.
I was working for her and went off and did some freelance track riding. I started to really enjoy it again, and it kind of slowly progressed from there. I think that’s the number one thing: to enjoy what I was doing again. Once I got that back I thought ‘yeah, I can do this’.
What weight can you ride at now?
I can ride comfortably at 53kg. It’s better than what I used to be able to do. Now I’m a bit more mature, I know how to listen to my body a bit better. I started doing some strength training with a fellow track work rider down at Gordon’s – that’s definitely helped.
How have you been received back in the system?
Everyone’s been really good and really supportive. Eran Boyd and Caitlin Jones were both around when I was riding. I’ve slotted in well, and it feels pretty natural.
You’ve now ridden two winners since you’ve been back, any goals from here?
I’ve only got until August this year before my apprenticeship finishes. I just want to get the rides and maybe outride my country claim. That’s the number one goal and just go from there.
What’s been your career highlight on track?
I guess back in the day it was my two wins on my dad’s horse, Natural Disaster, at Morphettville. They probably stand out.
Okay, thanks for your time today, Desiree, and all the best for the future.
No worries at all.