Shelby Bowtell commenced as a trainee in 2012 before being granted a permit to ride when under the care of leading trainer, Neville Parnham, a year later. The 21-year-old, now indentured to her father John, has ridden 90 winners including 75 at country, nine at metropolitan and six at provincial level. Bowtell, who will one of the contenders for Leading Country Rider at the 2015 Apprentice Jockey awards on August 31, spoke with Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s (RWWA) Julio Santarelli.
JS: It was a nice way to close out the racing season when second emergency Recipe For Cash, a horse that your father, John, trains, won at big odds at Pinjarra recently?
SB: She is a lovely filly who was struggling to get starts but we didn’t expect anything off her other than just wanting to see her run a good race. She ended up winning really nicely and was too good.
JS: Sharing the win with your dad added an extra element to the win?
SB: Most definitely! He hadn’t had a winner for a while. He has a couple of nice horses doing okay but to share in a win was really good.
JS: What’s it like working with your dad?
SB: It’s really good. He is laidback and casual with most things. You get in and do your work and he listens to what you have to say and takes notice of your input. I listen to him so it’s a great relationship.
JS: Do you have any other siblings who also work in racing and at the stables?
SB: My oldest sister is 30 and she lives in Sale with her partner and my younger one works in grain production for an international shipping company. We all started off in rodeo but I am the only one who took on racing full time.
JS: No brothers?
SB: All girls and that’s probably why dad is going bald (laughs).
JS: With your background and interest in horses were you always destined to be a jockey?
SB: I decided at 15 or 16 that I wanted to be a jockey. Because mum wanted no part of it I pushed it back and pushed it back until I turned 18 and signed up with Neville Parnham. Dad was okay with it and was aware of the dangers but mum was very protective in that department.
JS: What were like as a student at school?
SB: I wasn’t struggling and I actually enjoyed sewing and sporting classes but because I knew what I wanted to do I didn’t plan on doing anything else except be involved with horses.
JS: A couple of years down the track are you happy with how you are going?
SB: I think so but I need to start improving on my city racing.
JS: How did you find your experience working with leading trainer and horseman, Neville Parnham?
SB: I was having trouble signing up with someone before Neville came up and said he could take me which presented a great opportunity.
JS: Neville had his own sons Steve, Brad and Chris so it was a terrific gesture on his behalf.
SB: He had every right to say no because he had Chris signing up at the same time, but he took the time out to help me and I’m grateful he was able to teach me and give me experience like he has done previously with other apprentices.
JS: Having his foreman Mark Sestich, a former top rider, must have also been invaluable?
SB: He was really good help. You could ask him anything and he was more than happy to help or sit and watch replays. He is a really good teacher.
JS: What was the best lesson you learnt from Neville?
SB: Work ethic and to take responsibility. He didn’t do everything for you and you learnt to grow up very quickly.
JS: It must have been exciting coming through at the same time as Chris Parnham and being around the likes of Steve and Brad?
SB: I treat Chris like my little brother and the older boys were always there to help and were more than happy to do so.
JS: What do you believe is your best attribute as a rider?
SB: I feel like I am strong when riding them out with the whip. I also like to think I am able to feel how horses like to be treated and handled. I get along with them quite quickly.
JS: What is the one area you need to work on?
SB: Definitely riding hands and heels.
JS: Do you have any riders you look up to or regard as mentors?
SB: In WA I like to model myself on William Pike.
JS: Do you mix socially with some of the other riders away from racing?
SB: I am good friends with some of the girls and we often go out for dinner, but Jerry Noske is my best friend.
JS: You must gain a lot of respect and admiration for the way she conducts and presents herself?
SB: She is going really well and I am so rapt for her. She deserves all her success because she is a hard worker.
JS: What do think you would be doing if you were not involved in racing?
SB: I like to cook a fair bit so perhaps a chef would have been a path I followed.
JS: Is there a particular race that stands out in your mind?
SB: Inok is definitely one of my favourites and is a true old racehorse.
JS: A favourite race you would like to win?
SB: A Group race would be nice but that’s everyone’s goal.
JS: Have you set targets for the new season?
SB: Last year I did well in the country but hopefully I can go better in the metropolitan and provincial areas. For me winning isn’t as important as getting better as a rider. That’s my main goal.
RWWA: Julio Santarelli