Bendigo's Courtney Pace wins second Victorian picnic jockey's premiership


BENDIGO'S Courtney Pace has sealed her reputation as the undisputed queen of the picnic racing scene.

The 27-year-old was a runaway winner of the Victorian picnic jockey's premiership for 2016-17.

Her 47 winners was 13 clear of teenager Reece Goodwin, with Ray Douglas and Matthew Corbisiero back in equal third with 19 victories.

It is the second time Pace has won the premiership, her first coming back in 2014-15.

Pace, who started her career on the picnic circuit at 14 before becoming an apprentice with Lee Hope and eventually returned to the picnics, established a handy break early in the six-month picnic season and was never headed.

Her premiership-winning tally included several hauls of four wins in a day and multiple cups wins.

Pace, the daughter of veteran Bendigo trainer Arthur Pace, ended the season in much the same vein as she started by riding a double at Balnarring on Easter Saturday.

Her winning strike rate for the season was a touch over 30 per cent.

She placed second on 38 occasions and was third a further 17 times.

Pace said she continually looked to better her herself in the saddle and was proud of her win on what has become an ultra-competitive picnic racing circuit.

"My premiership two seasons ago was 31 wins, to do better this time is something I'm really happy about," she said.

"I've always had the same routine and I've managed to always get really good support.

"Riding four winners on a few separate occasions stamps your authority a bit, but you can't win premierships without good support which I definitely get.

"And it's nice to give something back to the trainers as they are the ones supporting us jockeys."

Two of her biggest supporters have undoubtedly been Bendigo trainer Brian Gentle, who Pace rides track work for each morning, and Mornington mentor Kelvin Southey.

Pace won five races during the season aboard the Southey-trained six-year-old Lubricate, and scored three-times on the Gentle-trained galloper Nine Mile Sniper, including back-to-back cup wins at Merton and Dederang.

Lubricate's five wins earned him the Victorian picnic of the year title.

With the start of the 2017-18 picnic season not due until late-October, Pace can look forward to a few months' respite from the regular four-to-nine hour round car trips to the likes of Omeo, Swifts Creek, Buchan, Alexandra and Yea.

What won't change is her heavy involvement in the racing industry.

Pace, who has a weekday role assisting the clerk of scales at racetracks across central Victoria, will continue to rise at the crack of dawn to ride track work and is in the latter stages of obtaining her trainer's licence.

"(Training) is something I have been really looking forward to for a while," she said.

"I've watched what my dad does pretty closely and I admire the way he goes about it."