Photo courtesy of Atkins Photography.
Our award for 2023 goes to Maggie Collett who is apprenticed to Justin Pickering. Maggie was chosen because of her dedication to return to racing after a difficult run of serious injuries. We also recognise that maMaggie has improved her communication skills both directly to owners and during media interviews.
We had an opportunity to chat to Maggie about her career in racing. She grew up in Yarraville Victoria where she started riding at Werribee Pony Club, she subsequently progressed to Eventing and then to riding trackwork. She rode work for the likes of Chris Waller and the Troy and Leon Corstens.
Realising that the path to an apprenticeship in Victoria would be difficult and opportunities limited, she made the tough decision, as a nineteen year old, to move on her own to South Australia. She began an apprenticeship with David Jolly, during this time she struggled with homesickness but she was able to ride her first career winner for David on With Gravy and won four times on stable favourite Fulton Street She progressed to ride several metro winners, the first being on The Raven for Kristi Evans before a run of injuries struck.
Maggie broke her coccyx in a fall (clearly not an ideal injury for a jockey) then having just returned to the saddle dislocated her shoulder badly enough to require surgery. This was followed by another break to the coccyx and then she broke her shoulder in a race fall. Surely that would have been enough for her to consider a career change but Maggie persisted and returned to riding.
During the injury period she had transferred to Wayne Francis and Glen Kent, and then back riding she joined the stable of John Macmillan before moving to Sue and Jason Jaensch where she enjoyed success.
Maggie’s latest injury was a serious concussion which kept her out of the saddle for the best part of a year, before she could return to racing.
Around this time she and partner Justin Pickering purchased their own training property and gradually work commitments there meant it was more practical for Maggie to transfer her indentures to Justin. Since then she has enjoyed successes with All Beans for the stable, She rode a double on TAB Finals Day with All Beans then a fortunate pick up ride on Manzala.
Maggie’s perseverance and dedication should lead to further success in the saddle, she is a worthy winner of the SAROA Apprentice Award.