This gal can hurry

JOHN SHORT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

In case you hadn't noticed, Johane Duquet is a young woman in a hurry.

At 24, the apprentice jockey feels she got a late start in her chosen profession and she wants to make up for the lost time as quickly as possible.

Born and raised in Quebec City, she climbed aboard her first horse as a youngster and was a competitive barrel racer before her 11th birthday. "I loved everything about horses, being around them, right from the start," she says.

After moving to Calgary with her father as a 16-year-old high school student, the articulate athlete's commitment to the animals led her first to a standardbred barn, where she worked about four years.

Working mostly with trainer Travis Umphrey, she learned a lot, and she's grateful. "I had a chance to work a bit in the sulky. It was fun."

But it wasn't the same as riding.

About two years ago, she heard of a possible job on the backstretch working with thoroughbreds and made her move quickly. A contact with Robertino Diodoro opened the door.

"He put me on the back of a horse the first day, galloping," she grinned. Hard grind or not, there has been no looking back.

Duquet says she's comfortable at 112 pounds. The five-pound apprentice allowance she carries to the post in every race has been a big advantage.

So has the assistance she gets from other riders, active and retired, as she rides for a variety of trainers including Monica Russell, Pam McDougall, Diodoro and Rod Cone.

"The best way for me to learn is to ride a lot," the ambitious jockey said. "The horses are all different. I ride maybe 10 different ones every morning."

Duquet's first winner was Himself The Elf, a two-year-old gelding saddled by Russell. "It was a special time," she said. "Good horse, good race. I knew him pretty well and I still ride him a lot in the morning."

For a young jockey, being in a hurry is all good.


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