POPULAR apprentice jockey Priscilla Schmidt cried all the way home in the car on Sunday night. But she knew, deep down, it was the right decision to hand in her rider’s licence.
The 26-year-old injury-plagued hoop has quit the riding ranks and will pursue a media career with broadcaster Sky Racing.
Schmidt, who rode in southeast Queensland before returning to her home town of Port Macquarie in northern NSW, broke down and wept after her final ride Fun With Indy finished fourth at Coffs Harbour on Sunday.
The girl who grew up dreaming of becoming an airline hostess, before racing became her career passion, had little choice but to step away from the riding ranks.
In the past few years she has broken her back and both legs and just about every bone in between and her battle-scarred body simply could not take any more.
“It was a sad day on Sunday and I cried nearly all the way home,’’ Schmidt said. “But my injuries are the reason why I had to make the decision to give up.
“I broke my forearm in my most recent fall last year and I’ve had ongoing problems with it. I still may need to have a bone graft and other surgeries.
“The doctors have been scratching their heads with all the injuries I have had and a few of them haven’t healed. Every time I go to a doctor they tell me that I really should think about not riding any more. My body had basically had enough.’’
Schmidt is from a racing family, with her father Dwayne training and younger sister Cassandra riding in the Northern Rivers and southeast Queensland.
Dwayne thought Priscilla was joking when she told him she was quitting the saddle but soon realised it was what she wanted.
“Everyone seems to think I woke up one day and decided to quit,’’ she said. “A lot of thought went into it. Everything is a mixture of happy and sad at the moment, but I am really looking forward to doing some work for Sky Channel.
“And I will always be watching my sister’s rides and cheering her on.’’
Schmidt, who retires after riding almost 300 winners, said her favourite was a 2013 maiden win on Tinto who went on to be a Group 1 star. Tim Bell, who died in a non-racing accident late last year, won the 2014 Queensland Oaks on Tinto.
“She has gone on to become a very special horse to a lot of people and to ride her to her maiden win was something I will never forget,’’ Schmidt said. “Any winner I rode for my dad was also very special.’’