TAKING his racing from Cranbourne to France will be a big leap for Beau Mertens, but the apprentice jockey is ready to take the next step.
Mertens, 17, who races with Cranbourne-based Michael Kent Racing, has only been in the saddle for less than a year but will get a chance to compete on the biggest apprentice stage on earth at Prix Diane in Chantilly, France.
He’ll ride in the Prix Longines Future Rising Stars event – an 1800m race featuring the best apprentices in horse racing – and is champing at the bit to head over in June.
“It was just a big thing with all the apprentices – if you’re lucky enough you get chosen and I was lucky enough,” Mertens said.
“The way you get chosen is how you represent yourself around the industry, how you’re riding at the moment and I as lucky enough to get this opportunity to head to France.
“I’m pretty honoured to be the one selected for it.”
The third-year apprentice – who’s been at the Cranbourne stable for four years – will get to test his hand in Chantilly – helping assist with track work before taking on the biggest race in his short riding career.
He hopes for a podium placing in the Future Rising Stars race and to enjoy his French sojourn.
“One race with all the apprentices – who are coming from all over the world – it will be good considering it’s one of their biggest race days over there so it’s going to be great,” Mertens said.
“I just want to get a first, second or third in the race – that would be insane.”
Guiding his first cup winner – taking Youbolt to victory in the 1400m Port Fairy Cup in December – is a moment Mertens will forever savour, especially as it was riding for one of his mentors Jarrod McLean.
“Riding my first cup winner in Warrnambool – it was a pretty big thrill because I was riding it for Jarrod McLean – he’s been one of my biggest supporters throughout so far and given me all the race rides and got me going,” Mertens said.
“Without him I would be nowhere, so that was amazing.”
He was also stoked to receive a ride in the Pakenham Cup – as he guided Todd Balfour’s Prior to 14th in another of first major race.
“100k race- so it was one of the bigger races I’ve ridden in so far and was pretty different to a normal race,” Mertens said.
“It was definitely one of the bigger ones I’ve ridden in so far.
“It’s (Pakenham Racing Club’s Tynong racecourse) fantastic – crazy how good they’ve had it and hopefully they can keep it that way as they always get those new courses and run them too soon, but this one is holding up well.”
Mertens wanted to thank Kent, his dad – well-known jockey Peter – and family for their support.
Mertens will head to France early next month with the main race held on 14 June.
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