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  • Provincial Racing NSW


TALENTED Central Coast apprentice Anna Roper is set to restart her career – and with a new boss.

The young jockey has joined the stable of Wyong trainer Damien Lane, who completed a successful Grafton July carnival by winning yesterday’s Maclean Cup (1400m) with Too Good To Be Tru ($8.50).

Roper, who will turn 21 in September, has not ridden for nearly eight months since an after-race accident at Muswellbrook on November 25 halted an outstanding first seven months of her career.

She had set the racing world alight by scoring at her first race ride on Alpha Go ($6) at Gundagai on April 3 last year for former Gosford trainer Tony Newing (now based at Grafton), and then piling on the winners.

Roper rode 15 winners in the latter part of the 2021-22 season, and a further 41 in the first four months of the current season until the Muswellbrook mishap abruptly stopped her progress.

Not only she was leading the State’s apprentices’ premiership at the time, but she was also in the Top 5 in the senior riding ranks.

Roper was dislodged from $31 roughie Stable Talk after she had finished seventh on the gelding in a Class 1 Handicap (1450m) at Muswellbrook, and was returning to the enclosure.

She was transported to Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital with knee and back pain, and later underwent surgery on her right knee to repair the medial cruciate ligament.

Roper joined Lane’s stable on June 19 – the day after he won his hometown Coonamble Cannonball (1100m) with Safado ($8.50), ridden by another apprentice Madeline Owen.

Along with trackwork duties, she has ridden at two recent sets of trials – at Wyong last Monday and then at Muswellbrook two days later.

Roper had three rides at Wyong and five at Muswellbrook, and rode winners (Windmill Road and Noisy Boy) in Maiden trials at each of the respective sessions.

“Even though Anna hasn’t ridden in a race for nearly eight months, she has kept herself pretty fit by doing lots of walking once her right knee was okay again,” Lane said this morning.

“She can still ride nice and light, and has a very good work ethic.

“Naturally, she is keen to get back to race riding and we will assess the situation after she takes part in another set of barrier trials at Gosford next Tuesday.”

Roper is eligible to claim 3kg at provincial meetings, and 1.5kg in the country.

Lane has previously had a number of apprentices, such as Alena Skerritt, Roy McCabe (now training at Bathurst) and Qin Yong.

His Maclean Cup victory yesterday with Too Good To Be Tru was his fourth over the five days of the Grafton carnival.

He had landed a double with Deep Opinions ($2.40 favorite) and Propel Motion ($5) at the opening meeting on July 2, and then won the Mother’s Gift (1400m) on Cup day last Thursday with Princess Amira ($21).

The Grafton foursome lifted him to 32 winners for the current season, and 162 for the last five seasons.

*Words John Curtis, July 17, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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