east coast faces
When most of us are in our deepest sleep, Jockey Bonnie Thomson is up out of bed and headed to the racetrack. While most of us are just getting up, she’s done a day’s work riding trackwork, then heads home to look after the two youngest of her three children.
Heading into the busiest time of the year as Townsville’s racing carnival approaches, we caught up with the laid-back jockey who loves her family, horses, and the warm mornings that are a standard feature of living in the North.
EC : What does your working day look like ahead of the racing carnival?
BT : It’s usually pretty casual, I do my job in the early hours of the morning. I start at 3 o’clock and finish by about half past seven, eight o’clock, then I have a pretty free range during the day. It’s good being your own boss!
EC : So you’re a full-time jockey?
BT : Full-time jockey, full-time mum, I have two kids at home and one that’s already left home
EC : So with such an early start, what’s bedtime for you?
BT : Oh, about 9.30-10pm…
EC : How does the racing carnival work – do you know what rides you have or do you find out closer to the time?
BT : Normally I get a lot of my rides through the rides I get at trackwork, I’ve got a pretty secure, good book of rides so far, but I don’t have a Cup ride as yet, but I’ve still got some nice rides leading up, so it’ll be pretty exciting
We generally race every week here, over Carnival I think it’s three or four weeks of racing with Saturday meetings, most of our Carnival races are Saturday meetings, lead up races are always on a Thursday before the big meeting on the Saturday, and we have jump outs or trials, after the races, like the next day, so any horses that are up and coming and getting ready for races usually have a jump out beforehand, it’s a bit of a thing they have in their preparation before they start
EC : It’s been a bit chilly lately…
BT : Yesterday was the coldest – it has been pretty cool in the mornings!
BT : I grew up in a little place called Injune, it’s sort of in central Queensland, it’s near Roma. I’d always been involved with horses, always had an ambition when I was a kid to be a jockey, and I became one when I was 18.
EC : Was anyone in your family a jockey, or was it just a love of horses?
BT : No family connection whatsoever with my immediate family, and I was the first member of my family to be involved with it. I got my first ride at 19, I had a lot of support from my family, especially my dad, he never missed many of my meetings when I first started riding, so he was my No.1 supporter.
EC : What brought you to Townsville?
BT : The warm weather! I’d actually done a lot of travelling between Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast, Sydney and Melbourne, but I had a lot of injuries over the years so the body isn’t as bouncy as it used to be, so I headed up here where the sun’s a bit warmer compared to those places, I turned 40 this year, so I’m still going strong!
I just spend a lot of time with my two kids that are still at home, I’ve got a nearly five year-old and one that’s just turned 11, my oldest is 22 this year.
We’ve got horses, both my kids are learning how to ride, they do barrel racing at the rodeos. They’re getting there, you just throw them on and let them go…!
STYLE : I’m pretty casual, it’s usually jeans, thongs and a singlet shirt, or a pair of shorts, I’m quite casual I am!
EC : You entered the Fashions on the Field last year?
BT : No, that was my daughter, normally when I go to the races I try to look a little bit like a lady, she did Fashions on the Field but she wouldn’t go up there without me so I got conned into going up too – (both were dressed in pastel pink) she loves wearing the same as I wear!
EC : Your most treasured item?
BT : I have a necklace that I’ve had for about 20 years that I got from my kids’ dad, so that’s been with me all this time…
EC : What are you listening to in the car?
BT : I’m a country girl, I love my country music – Kix radio, there’s no news, you just hear music, it’s awesome! I haven’t really got a favourite artist, I like a bit of everything, but I’m an Aussie girl, I like Keith Urban
EC : You work in a dangerous industry, is there a motto you live your life by?
BT : You don’t think of it like that though, probably people on the outside think it’s a dangerous industry but it’s just a passion that we have… my motto would be
‘Don’t take life for granted’ and ‘Live each day as it comes…’