22-year-old apprentice Tyla Conway is addicted to going fast. By her own admission she is a speed demon.
If she wasn’t pursuing a career as a jockey, there’s a fair chance Conway might have been involved in motor sports.
Presently, Conway’s passion for speed is fed by horse power, not the powerful mechanical kind, but the equine variety.
For Conway, riding thoroughbreds in races is an indescribable adrenaline rush, a high that can’t be replicated.
It’s an addictive state of mind that first dawned for Conway when she worked for Kalgoorlie horseman, Brett Matthews.
“After I rode a horse in fast work I jumped off and told Brett I wanted to be a jockey,” Conway said.
“It’s an incredible feeling and adrenaline rush.
“To feel the power of the horse underneath you and the wind in your eyes.
“It’s something that is incredibly hard to describe to anyone else that has not ridden a horse.
“It’s an insane feeling.”
Horses are not just a passion for Conway, it’s a tradition.
Born into a family of horse lovers, her mother was a former jockey and currently holds a track work license.
A former equestrian show rider, it was only natural for Conway to follow in the footsteps of her mum and switch to racing.
And a little over a month after being granted her license to ride, Conway booted home her first winner at Leinster on Saturday.
She had to wait until the final race on the programme, but in just her 20th race outing Conway combined with Reverend John in the Leinster Cup (1600m).
It’s a milestone victory that will forever be etched on Conway’s memory.
“It was incredible and so exciting,” Conway said.
“I reckon I watched the replay dozens of time since.
“It’s just as exciting watching it again.
“Past the post I had a lump in my throat.
“But I told myself I wasn’t going to sook.”
“It was the right horse for the right race for the right moment.”
Conway may have avoided shedding a tear after Reverend John’s win, but the emotional impact wasn’t lost on her family.
Aside from perhaps on-course punters, the loudest cheer when Conway returned to the winner’s enclosure came from her parents.
“Mum was screaming and hanging on the fence,” Conway said.
“I’m sure dad had a lump in his throat.
“They got in the car and drove from Kalgoorlie.
“It was special to have them there enjoying my success.”
It’s been a whirlwind introduction to racing for Conway, who was also crowned Racing And Wagering Western Australia’s Trainee Apprentice of the Year in September.
Indentured to former top junior jockey and current trainer, Dion Luciani, she is determined to ride more winners and make a mark in her chosen sport.
“Getting the win has given my confidence a boost,” Conway said.
“It confirms my decision to become a jockey and the hard work you put in.
“Dion is a great mentor who has been through it himself.
“He is awesome and keeps things simple and in perspective.
“He is great to learn from.”
Conway will look to make it a feature country cup double when she combines with Reverend John in the Laverton Cup (1600m) on Saturday.