Wearing her great pop’s colours, 16-year old Laura Rusten won her very first harness racing event earlier this month with her favourite horse Jaytees Hat.
“I had a good feeling racing in Parkes again after the COVID-19 restrictions, but it was very exciting to actually win.”
Although Laura started driving when she was 14, she was only allowed to obtain her racing licence in November last year at 16. She did her first race in March in Bathurst.
“It is all about judgement in a race,” says Laura. “You have to make on the spot, split second decisions. As you are moving so fast, the adrenaline is pumping. I never feel the cold in winter.”
As a fourth-generation driver in her family and her dad as her trainer, she is among very few female, school-aged drivers in the sport. “Although I am in the minority, everyone is very nice and polite, and treat me as an equal.”
At the moment Laura only considers harness racing a hobby. She has always been around horses and does the “whole lot”, but loves riding and would probably like to be a horse trainer one day.
When she lined up in Parkes with ten other competitors, Laura could not help but think about the day in November 2016 when she was riding at home and her horse fell over. She ended up in Westmead Hospital in a coma for five days, and it was six months until she could get on a horse again.
By Maggi Barnard