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Australian apprentices kick off three-week trip to headquarters

Luca Cumani: hosting Australian visitor Melissa Julius
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Australian apprentice jockeys Melissa Julius and Stephanie Thornton have begun a three-week spell riding out in Newmarket on a scholarship posting.

The pair, part of Racing Victoria's apprentice jockey training programme, were selected under the International Federation Of Horse Racing Authority’s (IFHRA) Racing Scholarship Fund, which is supported by the Sheik Mansoor Festival.

Julius, 25, has ridden 35 winners and has joined Luca Cumani, whose son Matty recently set up training in Australia.

She said: "I've been riding in races for only 14 months and to have an opportunity to ride track work at Newmarket for the Cumani stable is incredible.

"Newmarket is the home of racing in England. It's a wonderful opportunity and I've got to thank Racing Victoria for giving me the chance.”

Fellow apprentice Thornton, 18, who has ridden 29 winners, has joined Ed Dunlop and has recently had experience of the unique layout of a gallop known as Waterhall.

Dunlop is well-known to Australian racing fans via the deeds of popular stayer Red Cadeaux in the Melbourne Cup.

Dunlop said: "Stephanie did well around Waterhall, which can be a bit tricky even for more experienced riders as it has a 90-degree bend after five furlongs. She's a likeable girl and seems to be enjoying it."

The Racing Scholarship Fund allows young, talented riders from IFHRA member bodies to gain valuable experience to further their careers in the racing industry with international work and riding placements.

Racing Victoria's athlete development and industry careers adviser Melissa Weatherley said she was delighted Thornton and Julius could continue the recent trend of Victorian apprentices riding overseas for top-tier stables.

She said: “We're extremely grateful for the generous support of the IFHRA and the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival, which has paved the way for Stephanie and Melissa to take up this exciting scholarship.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for both young women and one I’m sure they'll derive great benefit from, just as Ben Thompson, Regan Bayliss, Jessica Payne and others have done in recent years.”

Bayliss won his first Group 1 on Saturday on Redkirk Warrior in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.

Stephanie did well around Waterhall which can be a bit tricky even for more experienced riders as it has a 90 degree bend after five furlongs
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