Former star Queensland apprentice Mandy Radecker was left speechless when told she was a finalist for the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards this week.
A broken neck, having a horse fall on top of her and a bout of pleurisy couldn’t turn Radecker away from dealing with horses, which have been a childhood passion for the Gympie product.
The 33-year-old was one of the best apprentices in Queensland during her riding career and became the first female winner of the Brisbane apprentices’ premiership in 2007-08.
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Her racing career wasn’t without its setbacks though, suffering a broken C2 vertebrae in her neck and a cracked hip when her horse Maroofity fell at Eagle Farm, throwing Radecker to the ground.
Initially ruled out for six months, Radecker was so determined to return to riding that she was back in the saddle within three months.
Radecker said she also suffered from pleurisy – an inflammation in the lungs – but ignored the condition for a lengthy period to continue riding.
“I ended up cracking some ribs and popping some cartilage because of the amount of coughing I was doing,” Radecker said. “I was a bit of a workaholic and just wanted to keep riding.”
Her love affair with horses didn’t stop when she retired from racing and she now works at Deagon to help re-educate troubled horses who have developed bad habits.
“My background has helped me fix some of the problems and bad experiences have made me realise it’s a niche market to get into,” she said.
“There were plenty of times as an apprentice where I would get on horses and wish someone at home could fix certain parts. That’s basically what I do now.”
Radecker has also found success in breaking-in horses. Her star graduate has been three-year-old Master Jamie, who has registered 11 wins from 14 starts, including his past four in a row.
“I’ve only just started breaking-in horses,” she said.
“Horses don’t care what you look like, how much money you have. If you just make them feel safe, they will stay as loyal as a dog. One of the more successful breaks I’ve had is Master Jamie, who’s had 14 starts and (11) wins.”
Radecker was this week announced as a finalist in the Godolphin-supported 2020 Australian Stud and Stable Staff Awards in the Horsemanship category.
“It’s hard to put into words really,” she said. “Before these awards, I always looked at set-ups like Godolphin and thought how good is that.
“To have those sort of facilities, endless number of horses – I always admired that.
“To be a finalist, I’m actually really surprised because of all the other talented people who have won it before.”