Young but indomitable: the power of unwavering determination
Her day begins at 3.20am. Work starts at 4.30 – saddling, riding, cleaning and feeding, among countless other responsibilities involved in caring for horses.
Then she’s back in the car at 10, showering, donning athleisure gear and squeezing in an hour-long nap – all before a 1pm appointment to speak to a student journalist.
Other days, she’s homeward bound as late as 9pm after the races, with barely six hours until the alarm blares once again to signal that it’s time to begin another caffeine-fuelled day.
Twenty-year-old Ruby Lamont from suburban Melbourne is an aspiring apprentice jockey, dedicating herself towards the gruelling life of professional horse riding and training. With a lifelong love of horses and an unmatched ambition, Lamont is a prime example of the kind of fearlessness and determination needed to be successful in the dangerous and competitive horseracing industry.
Despite only deciding to pursue racing after a careers counselling session in year 10, she is a force to be reckoned with, and eager to prove herself among competitors born into families with generations of racing history.
Lamont works and trains at Cranbourne Turf Club six days a week. Picture supplied.
“My last name isn’t in the industry, no one knows who I am… so making a name for myself is definitely something that drives me to do my best and prove something to people that you don’t need to have a last name [in the industry] to pursue this career path,” she said.
But in having a family totally disconnected from the racing industry, it took a while for Lamont’s parents to come to terms with her career choice.
“I suppose I’d hoped that she would do it for a period of time and then realise that the hours were bad or it was dangerous,” Lamont’s mother, Margaret Angliss, said.
“Now I realise that that won’t happen. And I’m happy for her that she’s happy doing it … but I can’t help but worry.”
As nearly a third of falls from horses result in jockey’s sustaining an injury, and one in every 620 falls being fatal, according to a study from the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical research, safety is something that can never be assured in the business of horse racing.
But with a singular focus on achieving her jockey’s license, fear isn’t an obstacle for Lamont.
“Riding at 60km/h around a racetrack when you could fall off and … severely injure yourself or kill yourself – she has no fear, and she can get back on the horse,” Ruby’s father, Philip Lamont, said.
Angliss adds: “She’s not a kid that’s a risk taker in other things. She’s not reckless. This is a unique aspect of her, that she’s not frightened.”
Although only settling on a career as a jockey a few years ago, Lamont’s passion for working with horses dates back to her childhood. Pictures supplied.
Although Ruby Lamont admitted that falling can “really shatter you,” she wears an attitude that suggests taking on a passionless career to avoid danger is a greater risk to her happiness than racing is to her body.
“Technically I could get hit by a bus any day of the week, so what’s the point in doing something that’s boring?” she said.
It can be isolating work, though. While the world of opportunities has grown, her social sphere has undoubtedly shrunk, with a good work-life balance being a near impossibility. Maintaining friendships outside of her racing bubble is something Lamont has had to mostly sacrifice as friends struggled to work around the demands of her job.
But in having lost some old friends, she’s found a new family in racing.
“You all live the same way, so everyone can relate. You’re kind of all depressed, but you’re all kind of happy about it, you know?” she laughed.
While the horse racing industry in incredibly competitive, Lamont’s work ethic and love for horses might set her apart.
Lamont’s coach, Julius Sandhu says Lamont is committed.
She’s passionate, focused, hardworking… she’s got a goal that she wants to achieve, and I don’t think anybody’s going to stop her doing it.
“The first thing that makes me really comfortable with Ruby is that she has a love for horses. She’s not what we would typically call in the industry as an “angry rider”. She works with the horses, and that’s always a huge benefit.”
Lamont even views the horses she’s worked with as “pretty much” her children.
“They went through preschool, primary school, high school and they graduate to the races. It’s all so cute, bless them!”