She may have had to share the spoils in the last event at Ascot on Saturday, but the spotlight was well and truly shining on comeback jockey Natasha Faithfull as the curtain came down on the meeting.
Faithfull steered Minus Looks to dead-heat for first with Little Fish in the Seppelt Wines Handicap (1200m), her third and final ride on her first day back since suffering injuries in an accident in Albany last January.
Faithfull suffered broken bones and punctured lungs after she fell and was stomped on by a horse she was riding at an Albany beach.
Many months of rehabilitation to return to the saddle culminated with a victory aboard the Steve Wolfe-trained galloper.
Faithfull said she had hoped to fly under the radar going into Saturday, but admitted she was overwhelmed by the support she had received from the industry as a whole.
“I tried not to publicise it too much,” she told TABradio.
“Even before getting a winner, so many people were saying congratulations and such a good job to get back.”
Faithfull said she faced plenty of testing times in her time away from the saddle and added watching her peers win races was tough.
“Mentally, having that time off, it’s pretty heartbreaking,” she said.
“You have to let yourself heal.
“Sitting around watching races all day and watching other people be successful, it’s really hard to sit there and not be able to do anything.
“Once I got to the point where I was able to do stuff in the gym I really enjoyed it.”
Steve Wolfe has been an integral part of Natasha Faithful’s career. He was as emotional as anyone when she made a fairytale return, dead-heating with Minus Looks… #TheRacesWA pic.twitter.com/TPj9YyYTtL
— The Races WA (@theracesWA) October 19, 2019
Faithfull settled towards the rear of the field aboard the gelding, who was second-up, and followed race favourite Dance Music throughout.
The six-year-old appeared to get his head down on the line, but the photo showed he and Little Fish couldn’t be separated.
Faithfull said things panned out perfectly for Minus Looks in the run.
“I knew there was going to be a lot of speed in the race,” she said.
“It was on speed and a bias kind of day.
“When I lobbed behind the favourite I thought ‘she’s going to track us up’.
“I thought I got it by a head…I didn’t realise it was that close on the line.”
The win continued a strong 12 months for Minus Looks, who hasn’t finished outside the top four in six starts during that period.