Israeli jockey riding winners in Perth

September 23, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
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Talia Maor fell in love with horses on the kibbutz on which she was born…and has travelled a long road to become a city jockey riding in Perth.

Head to head with Takeover Target

Head to head with Takeover Target

Born in Afula, the 26-yr-old grew up on Kibbutz Beit Alfa. With a French mother and an American father, Maor speaks perfect French, English…and Ivrit. She told J-Wire: “I was passionate about horses from the age of eight having my introduction to them on the kibbutz itself. In my younger years, it was all about show-jumping and dressage but I grew bored with that and became interested in the sport of racing. There were no training tracks and we virtually trained our horses in corn fields with small tracks cut out on the terrain.”

Gambling on horses is prohibited in Israel. Consequently the racing industry is tiny. Maor told J-Wire there were tracks in the Israel Valley but as there was no prize money on offer the racing industry failed to flourish. “That is a great pity”, said Maor “as there were many Palestinians who shared our love of horses and that would have presented another opportunity to get closer together. There was only one meeting every two months.”

Following her two year stint in the IDF, Maor joined the hordes of Israelis who tour the world at the end of their military service. In December 2005, the horse-loving Maor found herself at work in New Zealand in Timaru, birthplace of one of Australia’s most famous horses, Phar Lap. Her boss at the Phar Lap raceway, Polly McDonald, was aware that the young Israeli was heading for Australia and put her in touch with Perth trainer Angela Smith.

Talia and Takeover Target

Talia and Takeover Target

Maor worked for Smith, who trained the 1997 Perth Cup winner Time Frame, for only three weeks as the trainer was heading to Broome for three months’ racing. After gaining her licence with Paul Jordan, Maor found herself apprenticed to Fred Kersley, WA’s top trainer under whose tutelage the legendary Northerly won nine Group 1 races.

“I had my first win for him at Leinster, a bush track three hours north-east of Kalgoorlie. An Israeli girl winning on a horse called Bedouin Life!.”

Maor had to wait almost two years before notching up her first city win for Kersely on Observation following a disruptive period of almost a year following two race falls from which she suffered a broken jaw and a broken collarbone.

Now a regular at the Perth city tracks, Maor notched up her third city win last week in the saddle of On the Warpath.

talia on georgesparkMaor is pictured here [l] driving George’s Park past the winning post in Bunbury in January. “This was an important win for me as the horse’s trainer, Rod Bynder, had been a great guy to work for and had died only a couple of months before.”

Maor’s next major booking is her marriage to Josh Rodder, a Jewish executive of Perth Racing responsible for Perth acquiring visits equine stars Takeover Target, Apache Cat, Rightfully Yours and Bank Robber. “Takeover Target is the best horse whose saddle I have graced”, she said.

Maor needs almost two more years to complete her apprenticeship. “The future for me lies in Perth….for the moment” she told J-Wire. A long way from the corn fields of Afula.

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