Q&A with Jamie Kah
Champion jockey and VRC ambassador Jamie Kah took some time out of her busy schedule – including her amazing success in Hong Kong where she became the first female rider to win the Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin – to talk to us about her passion for her own horses, back home on her farm.
How many horses do you currently have and how many would you ideally like to re-train?
I currently have two off-the-track horses in work, Brax and Dollars. I also have Rolex, who I bred from an off-the-track mare. His dad is a warmblood. I also have cutting horses/ponies, plus I have a fair few racehorse spellers here. It’s great, it keeps me busy and the days that I’m not riding in races I spend all day pottering around with my horses. It also keeps me very fit, I never have to worry about my weight or going to the gym as I’m too busy with my horses!
What do you like the most about retraining thoroughbreds?
I think they are really talented and so athletic. They are very generous horses to ride, they try so hard to please and when you click with a thoroughbred, they really will try to do everything to please you.
What are some of the challenges of retraining?
You need to manage them quite carefully when they come out of training, they need some time to adjust to the change in feeding regime and you can see that come through with their feet and their coats, which can go a bit dull when they come off the rich racing feed. It is so rewarding though when you see them let down and become all healthy and glossy, and you can tell that they are ready both physically and mentally to tackle their new career. Some take a lot more time than others but they’re normally the extra talented ones.
Do you want to continue to juggle race riding with retraining and maybe some event riding? How do you balance it all?
I have a passion for show-jumping and love getting out to compete when I can. Perhaps one day in the future I might decide to focus more on that, but at the moment I’m pretty happy doing both. There’s nothing better than spending time with my horses in the stable or in the arena after I’ve had a tough day at my day-job, but equally I’m still pretty motivated to continue winning big races on the track!
You retrain Dollar For Dollar, a horse you won six races on, including a Group 3 and Listed race on Melbourne Cup Day in 2017. What connection did you have with him that made you want to take him in after he retired?
Dollars and I really connected while he was still racing, it was pretty much love at first sight! He is a very pretty horse and was always quite cheeky, but for some reason he really liked me and we developed a great bond. After we won our first race together, I asked Tony (McEvoy, trainer) if I could please have him when he retired, and I was so happy when the owners decided to give him to me.
Why is he so special to you?
It’s easy to fall in love with the quiet horses, but it means more when it’s with a horse who is not straight-forward! Plus we’ve been through quite a lot already, from the highs of winning a race together on Melbourne Cup Day, to almost losing him to colic on Christmas Day in 2021. He was so sick but there was nothing I wouldn’t have done to save him, so with the help of some amazing vets and a lot of time to recover, Dollars came back as cheeky as ever. It’s a big change from winning on one of the best days of Victorian racing – Melbourne Cup Day – to jumping around a show-jumping course on Dollars, but they’re both things I’m equally proud of him for.
What are your hopes for Dollar For Dollar in the future?
I’m keen to see how far he can go as a showjumper. He is very athletic (even if that can be expressed in his cheeky antics sometimes!) with a great canter and a nice scopey jump, so I’m hopeful he can get to a good level in the show-jumping arena.
How will you get him to this point?
I’m lucky to have had the support of my family back when I was younger taking me to several horsemanship clinics and western clinics and I got a lot of different techniques from there. I also train with some great coaches, including fellow VRC Ambassador Amanda Ross. We’re also fortunate to be close to Boneo Equestrian Park that runs fantastic competitions and training days each month, where I take my off-the-track horses to gain some experience.
What are some of your favourite moments with your horses?
I love coming home from the track and going straight out to see my horses, either before or after a race meeting – it’s my happy place. I love getting out and competing and there’s nothing much more rewarding then when you get a clear round in the jumping arena after months and months of hard work, but I equally enjoy those quiet moments in the stables when I’ve fed up and can just be with them while they’re happy and content – it’s such a special bond.
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