Gun apprentice Holly Watson is ready to enter the next phase of her racing journey after outriding her metropolitan claim at Belmont last Saturday.

Watson achieved the milestone after flashing home late on former Victorian galloper Songaa who on debut made the perfect start to WA racing.

It’s an important step forward for Watson who celebrated the win in style, standing high in the irons and giving a fist pump as Songaa hit the line.

Graduating to senior ranks can evoke mixed feelings for young riders, excitement but also nervousness without a claim to lean on anymore.

But Watson’s host trainer and mentor, Simon Miller, has no doubts his protégé has the skill and temperament to make a successful transition.

Miller, who has overseen previous top apprentices Aaron Mitchell and Chloe Azzopardi, has supervised Watson for the bulk of her apprenticeship.

Their partnership has blossomed since Watson rode her first metropolitan winner on the Miller-trained How’s The Serenity at Belmont in 2021.

Miller said he can’t wait to see Watson’s career unfold.

“Every apprentice that I’ve had have different skill sets,” Miller told The Races WA.

“Her strength is the ability to accept criticism or feedback, it’s phenomenal.

“She doesn’t lay down off feedback and that’s what has set her apart since first coming on board.

“She rode two winners in three months and then 50 when she joined me in the next nine.

“She always had the ability and skillset, but she had to believe in herself.

“One of her greatest assets from the time she started to ride for me was she never got flustered.

“Her toughness is one of her key assets since coming on board.”

Watson comes from a non-racing family, but has carved out a reputation as one of WA’s best young riding talents.

Since commencing her apprenticeship, she has ridden close to 200 winners including five at black-type level.

Watson’s first ride was on Agent D’or at York and she landed her first winner aboard Hashtag at Leinster.

Despite excellent form in the provincial and country circuits, Miller deliberately held her back from city riding.

He believes being patient and allowing her to find her feet has ultimately led her to being a more accomplished rider.

“One of the things I’m really proud of is I held her back from riding in town,” Miller said.

“If I didn’t she would have outridden her claim six months earlier, but she is a far better rider now.

“That’s not to say she wasn’t a good rider six months ago, but she’s coming out at the right time.”

Julio Santarelli