Just before trackwork kicked off this morning I gave Gold Coast based jockey Laura Cheshire a ring for a quick chat.
The reason for my call was to follow up on a tip I copped yesterday that when Laura had applied for the renewal of her riding licence for the new season she’d been sent a letter from Racing Queensland advising that her application for a new greyhound trainer’s licence had been approved.
Laura confirmed that the story was true, and told me that a whole bunch of jockeys who’d renewed their licenses had received the same letter.
“Greyhound trainer?” I thought out loud, ” She’s a f*cking jockey. How the hell could RQ get it so wrong? How do they get so many things so bloody wrong?”
I was about to launch into a rant but Laura pulled me up. It was just a stuff she said, we all make them. I’d rather talk about things that really matter she told me, things like animal welfare and jockey’s welfare funds, and loss and life and the beauty of my friend Ashlee Mundy and how much I miss her every day, and equal rights and same sex marriage and misogyny and poetry and nature safaris and saving black swans and the social and cultural importance of the Maroons winning Origin, and a whole lot of other things that matter more than a minute and ten seconds at Randwick on Saturday arvo.
“I was just going to do a piss take story about RQ thinking you were a greyhound trainer and post a few pictures of you in bikinis and rave on about how hot you are luv” I told young Laura, almost feeling guilty as I said it. Almost.
“That’s real nice of you Arch, but I’d rather you put up a picture of me with Houtzen, because’s she our Queenslander in the Everest and maroon pride and backing our own is so much more important that my tits or my arse mate” Laura told me.
“Concentrate on the things that matter mate” she said.
I tried, I really did Laura. But geez, I’m only human and I’m just a bloke, and how bloody beautiful are you babe? Yep I tried, but I couldn’t help myself.
Do you know what though?
Her beauty runs deep, real deep, far deeper than the skin and her supermodel looks.
Laura Cheshire is the full package, the real deal. A young woman fiercely committed to animal welfare, a passionate supporter of equality for all, a deeply compassionate person whose love for others shines like a beacon, a rider who truly believes that racing is the greatest sport on earth, an outspoken advocate for high quality public cancer care, a madly passionate Maroons supporter, and a human being who exemplifies everything that is good about our sport and all that matters to us as people and citizens of Queensland, Australia, Aetearoa and the world.
I’d seen Laura Cheshire ride as an apprentice when I was living and working in New Zealand, but I’d never before met her and we’d never exchanged a single word. Now I’m her biggest fan.
This young woman should be the face of Queensland Racing.
No, this young woman IS the face of Queensland Racing, it’s just that the people who run the show and send jockeys out letters telling them that they are greyhound trainers are yet to realise it.
It’s high time that changed, and that they did.
Laura Cheshire loves our sport and tells me that she needs racing more than she needs air, because oxygen may well keep her alive but it’s racing that makes her feel alive.
I’ll tell you something for free though Laura.
You may need racing.
But racing needs you a hell of a lot more.
Keep up the good work girlfriend, and kick home plenty of winners.
May the Gods of good racing fortune shine upon you always.
You deserve it.