APPRENTICE jockey Jacob Golden and Australian pony club representative Jess Towns gained valuable knowledge in the finer points of horsemanship across several disciplines when accredited Portuguese coach Francisco Campeao gave lessons and advice to a group of aspiring young riders in Moree at the weekend.
Campeao is Oceania ambassador for the International Horseball Federation, which was established in 1999 to manage and promote horseball, a global equestrian sport that has been likened to a “mix of basketball and rugby on horseback”.
He is also a Level 3 international coach in dressage, showjumping and eventing, and in 2019 was appointed Racing NSW race-day swabbing steward for the Hunter and North-West Racing Association.
Campeao travelled from his base at Moonbi, near Tamworth, a couple of days ahead of today’s Moree Race Club’s seven-race TAB meeting at the request of Moree trainer Peter Sinclair.
“I gladly accepted an invitation from Peter to come and coach a few lessons with the kids,” Campeao said.
“What I do, initially, is teach the basics of classical riding so students understand what they are doing on top of their horse and how to communicate and achieve better contact with their horse.
“In saying that, these basics might not be so useful for young jockeys like Jacob when racing, but when he’s working horses on the track, he can take advantage of what I’m teaching,” he said.
“He now understands the meaning and basics of classical riding, which is the foundation for anything a rider wants to do on top of a horse.
“Unfortunately, in Australia, some riders don’t have the opportunity to come in contact with coaches that will be able to transmit that knowledge.
“Once they grasp these ideas and principles, which are the ABC of riding, they find it much more interesting,” he said.
Campeao is based at Moonbi, near Tamworth, the home of the Australian Horseball Association.
“I came to Australia to develop horseball, the new equestrian discipline, and the Australian association is based in Tamworth. From there I can present horseball to other cities in New South Wales, as well as other states.”
Campeao has been working part-time with Racing NSW stewards at Tamworth for the past 12 months.
“It’s something I enjoy doing because I have been with horses all my life,” he said.
Eighteen-year-old Golden, apprenticed to Sinclair, said Campeao explained the principles of classical riding in layman’s terms.
“He’s very helpful and makes everything he’s teaching me relate back to racing. Even though it’s a different discipline to racing, he makes a lot a sense that relates to what I do as a jockey,” Golden said.
Towns, 20, is a champion equestrienne who three years ago was selected as part of a four-person showjumping team to represent Australia against France.
She finished runner-up at the 2016 NSW State Showjumping Championships before claiming the top prize the following year.
She said training under Campeao was an invaluable experience.
“Francisco has a different perspective to a lot of coaches in Australia and he has different teaching techniques – it’s good to get a different opinion,” she said.
“He focuses on the basics, which everyone needs, and took everyone right back to the start, to the fundamentals. My horse is off-the-track so he needs to have the basics established.
“It’s been really worthwhile, especially here in Moree, because we don’t get coaches out here a lot.
“Francisco said he would be making regular visits to Moree which would be good for the local horse community – everyone said they’d be interested in having regular coaching sessions,” she said.
Jacque Towns echoed her daughter’s thoughts.
“Francisco is an amazing instructor with children of all ages and all capabilities – he has a really good rapport with the kids – and we will definitely get him back to Moree again for more schools,” she said.
Today’s meeting, transferred from Gunnedah, also heralds the return of race-day crowds after race-goers and on-course punters spent three months in horse-racing wilderness, thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
However, while Moree Race Club welcomes patrons back to the fold, strict COVID-19 biosecurity measures will be in place.
Club president Rob Mather said numbers will be strictly limited and Moree Race Club is committed to adhering to the one person per four-square metre rule.
“Names and contact details will need to be provided to an official at the gate and temperatures will be taken,” Mather said.
“Patrons wishing to view horses along the parade ring fence, grandstand steps and along the front fence must maintain social distancing of one-and-a-half metres between themselves and the next closest person.”
Golden has five rides today, including three for Sinclair – Mister Owe (1600m maiden plate),
Samphire Hoe, part-owned by Mather (1300m class 2 handicap) and Master Cramsie in the 1400m Curlewis Cup.
Golden also rides speedy five-year-old Bed Talk in the 950m BM-66 handicap for Moree trainer Douglas Fernando and Haradify in the 1600m BM-58 handicap for Toowoomba trainers Alyssa and Troy Sweeney.
“Hopefully, they’ll all go good,” said Golden, who claims three kilograms.
“I reckon Haradify will go all right and Master Cramsie and Samphire Hoe should go well, too, especially on their home track.
“Doug’s horse (Bed Talk) has drawn out wide but there’s only one turn so that should make it a little bit easier for him,” Golden said.