Trainer Brett Dodson and jockey Priscilla Schmidt at Coffs Harbour's Pink Silks meeting after her second last ride.
Trainer Brett Dodson and jockey Priscilla Schmidt at Coffs Harbour's Pink Silks meeting after her second last ride. Greg White

Schmidt gives up the saddle at just 26

IN WHAT is a blow to both Country and Metropolitan racing, apprentice jockey Priscilla Schmidt will never hop back into a race saddle again after the 26-year-old decided to hand in her riding licence this week.

Only 18 months ago Schmidt was in the form of her relatively short career, being named the leading rider of the Grafton July Carnival.

However the third-generation hoop has been plagued by injury since she got in the saddle and her recent forearm break, which kept her out of last year's July carnival, has spelled the end for the jockey.

Schmidt's father, former champion jockey and leading Grafton trainer Dwayne Schmidt, said he took the news with a twinge of relief.

"She just has not got the full strength back in her to ride to the best of her ability," he said.

"Over her career she has broken both legs, both ankles, broken ribs, a broken arm, broken wrist, ligaments in her knee - with everything it has just taken a toll on her.

"After everything that has been done, this decision is a huge weight off my shoulders. As a father I worried about her every time she went out on track, so at least now I can rest easier."

Schmidt will swap her whip for a microphone as she pursues a career with Sky Racing's coverage.

The jockey's first appearance on live racing coverage came during last year's July Racing Carnival where she was a guest commentator for Sky, with her efforts highly commended by the racing ranks.

"I think she is the perfect fit for it," Clarence River Jockey Club CEO Michael Beattie said. "She did a wonderful job over the two days of the carnival that she was involved in last year.

"I was also extremely impressed with her presence and the way she came across at a Kempsey meet recently.

"There was a very bad fall and one of the jockeys involved was Melinda Graham, who is a close friend of Priscilla's, yet she kept her composure and assurity."

Schmidt was reportedly saddened by the decision, which she made after riding at the Coffs Harbour meeting last Sunday.

"She knew it had to come one day," Dwayne Schmidt said. "But she didn't want to go out on these terms, she has been forced from the track.

"I am so proud of her - I would be proud if she was working at Woolies."



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