Hambling heads to Australia for greater opportunities
Apprentice Natalie Hambling has quit Britain for Australia, citing the lack of opportunities for claimers in general and women riders in particular.
Hambling had been with Richard Fahey in Malton and ridden 15 winners in the last three seasons, most recently scoring on Chiswick Bey at Newcastle in February.
But Hambling has not been seen in action in Britain since that month and is now in New South Wales, where she is set to resume her career with trainer Gary Portelli.
"There are a lack of opportunities in England," she explained. "It's very hard for apprentices and I'm afraid to say even worse for girls."
Oz was always in her mind
Hambling, 22 and originally from Colchester in Essex, admitted that taking advantage of openings on the other side of the world has long been in her mind.
"I've always taken an interest in Australian racing," she said. "Girls are really breaking through over here and people are a lot more forward-thinking when it comes to putting girls on.
"I always knew I'd come here, I thought it was better to take the plunge sooner rather than later, I'm still young."
The majority of the 7lb claimer's winners were for Fahey, who said: "I'm disappointed to see her go and the owners were taking to her - I wish her all the best."
Hambling has been in Australia for a fortnight, having contacted Portelli to arrange a job before she left Britain.
"I asked him if he'd a position available for an apprentice, and he told me I was welcome here as soon as I was ready," she said.
"He's having a good season and won the Golden Slipper with She Will Reign, and he's been very helpful. He's keen to get me going and I hope to get my licence sorted by the end of this month.
"Riding track work here is very different, it's all about times and you have to have a clock in your head, but I'm adapting well and horses are horses, if you can ride you're not going to go far wrong."
Hambling, a graduate of the British Racing School, also pointed to poor prize-money as a factor in her decision to move.
"It's hard to break even in England, especially as an apprentice without a full riding fee," she said. "The racing industry is thriving here – and you wouldn't be racing round Wolverhampton in -3C for a £3,000 race!
"It wasn't an easy decision and I'm very far away from home, but it's not like I'll never come home, it's only a day away on a plane. No one can promise you the world but I'm going to have a good go at it over here, and I have a very good trainer behind me."