Apprentice jockey Jye McNeil will have his first race ride at Swan Hill today.
The 16-year-old is indentured to Mansfield master Gerald Egan, the man who has moulded the careers of many top jockeys including Luke Nolen and Nick Hall.
But it is a long-retired star of yesteryear who has had the biggest impact on the son of Kerang trainer Darryl McNeil.
Alan Trevena, former rider of great filly Surround, is a close friend of the McNeil family and encouraging Jye to be a jockey.
“He’s played a huge part and he was actually the one that got me in with Gerald,” McNeil said.
“When Al was at home one day I told mum how I wanted to be a jockey.
“She asked for tips for what to do and he (Trevena) just said if it was something I really wanted to do, to give it a go.
“After that we saw an article on Gerald and we got Al to ring him up, because he knew him, and he got me in.”
McNeil will realise his dream of riding in a race when he partners Lago Delight mare Ski Lago for local trainer Jane Matheson in the Owen Connick Builders Maiden Plate (1200m), the second event on the seven-race Swan Hill card.
“The horse had already been entered and I didn’t know I was going to be riding until Monday,” McNeil said.
“I only got my licence on Monday, so after I saw it was entered I rang Greg up and he said it was OK for me to jump on her – It’s great.”