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Horse-mad Darwen teenager aims to become professional jockey
BY the time Melissa Dabrowski was at nursery school, she had already decided what she was going to do when she grew up.
And later this month, aged 16, she will take a big step towards realising her ambition of being a jockey and winning the Derby.
Melissa, of Beech Grove, Darwen, is off to Newmarket to join a foundation course at the British Racing School before an attachment to one of the top stables.
After 18 months, she hopes to apply for a jockey’s licence.
At just 4ft 10in tall and weighing barely seven stone, Melissa certainly fits the mould of a typical jockey.
She said: “I know it is going to be hard and that very few girls succeed in a tough sport. But I firmly believe I can reach my goal and that my dreams will come true.”
Parents Gregg and Tricia Dabrowski own Edwin Ainsworth Funeral Directors in Darwen.
They took Melissa for riding lessons at Waddington Farm, Bog Height, and four years ago they bought her a pony called Gypsy.
The former Holy Trinity Primary pupil has already raced several times, having won her first on Gypsy at Newton-le-Willows.
They later raced at Aintree, York and Chepstow, but Gypsy has since retired.
While at Newmarket, she will get the chance to apply for her jockey’s licence.
Recruitment co-ordinator Carol Casey, of the British Racing School, said: “We actually get more girls than boys, but that doesn’t carry through to those who become qualified jockeys.
Melissa will spend nine months working with us and then will work with a racehorse trainer, where she will work towards a diploma in racehorse care, and perhaps her jockey’s licence.”
- The last Darwen youngster to head off to Newmarket with hopes of becoming a jockey was Albert Whalley, who ran away from home in the 1890s when he was just 13.
TOP FEMALE JOCKEYS
- Hayley Turner Considered the first woman to sustain a successful career as a pro jockey in the UK, becoming the first female to ride 100 UK flat race winners in a year in 2008.
- Kirsty Milczarek A former showjumper, Milczarek came to racing prominence when she rode 42 all-weather race winners between November 2007 and March 2008.
- Nina Carberry The daughter of jockey Tommy Carberry, the 29-year-old Irish woman is a National Hunt jockey who won the Irish Grand National in 2011. This year she appeared on Irish TV in documentary The Irish Road To Cheltenham.
- Katie Walsh Another Irish jockey who was the highest placed female at last year’s Grand National. Walsh, who began her career in 2003, is the sister of top jump jockey Ruby Walsh.
- Clare Balding The TV presenter was a leading amateur flat jockey from 1988 to 1993.
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