Emma Jayne Wilson has been having quite the meet up in Canada and I knew I had to get an interview with her so I did he he. Thanks to her agent Mike for the help in getting this interview.
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
EJW: I was born Branton Ontario, Canada and I grew up there as well.
FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up?
EJW: An active one.
FOTH: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
EJW: I have 2 older sisters.
FOTH: What do they and your parents think about you being a jockey?
EJW: They love it and think it is great. They are a very supportive family and anything we as kids wanted to be when we grew up, everybody was supportive of.
FOTH: At a young age did you know you wanted to be a jockey or that was something that was the farthest thing from your mind?
EJW: Yes I did. It was always been a dream of mine, when I was a kid and they had career days in school they would ask 'what do you want to be when you grow up?" and I always said I wanted to be a jockey.
FOTH: Did you ever go to any of the tracks in Canada as a young girl before you began a rider?
EJW: I used to go to Woodbine all the time to watch the races as a kid.
FOTH: What event or events actually led to you becoming a jockey?
EJW: It wasn't any particular event it was just opportunities would arise where I would meet somebody like a friend of my moms or somebody at the track and kept pushing me in that direction.
FOTH: How long did you gallop/exersise horses before you took out your jockey license?
EJW: 2 years.
FOTH: Did you have people helping you along the way or did you learn a lot of it on your own?
EJW: There was many people. Generally it is watching and learning and asking a lot of questions, those were things people along the way did for me.
FOTH: In Canada, at tracks like Woodbine and Fort Erie, are the trainers up there pretty receptive of female riders or did you have to work 2x as hard to prove to them that you could ride?
EJW: Well personally I don't take the female rider stance, I don't even like talking about it to be honest. I am not a female rider, I am a rider that happens to be female. So it is all a matter of perspective. I am not a female rider, I am just a jockey.
FOTH: Tell us a bit about your 1st race.
EJW: It was at Woodbine on a horse called "Flyin (i couldn't get the last part sorry-chris) and the horse was 30-1 and it was a sloppy racetrack and everything went quick.
FOTH: Were you nervous at all?
EJW: I was feeling nervous and as they were loading in the gate I was nervous, but I felt confident and my adrenaline was going.
FOTH: Tell us about your 1st win was that at Woodbine?
EJW: No that was at Fort Erie and it was my 2nd lifetime mount. It was on a horse named 'Ali Ola" The rain looked like it was gonna come and I did my homework and she jumped off the pace quite a bit in the slop and I was very excited when she won the race on the sloppy track.
FOTH: What was going through your mind as you jogged the horse back to the winner's circle?
EJW: Well we had a foul claimed on me coming out of the gate and my agent told me I was "baptized by fire" so we had to go through everything to get that 1st win and talking to the stewards and everything. It being my 2nd lifetime mount, it was a little nerve racking talking to the stewards, but once I saw the replay I knew everything would be good.
FOTH: Did you get the jockey ritual after the race?
EJW: No. I don't know why. I guess me being at Fort Erie for the 1st time they really didn't know me.
FOTH: What other tracks have you rode at besides Fort Erie and Woodbine and would you like to come to the US to ride one day?
EJW: I worked out horses in Gulfstream, Kenneland and the Fairgrounds. As far as riding in the states I want to keep every option open and ride as much as I can and going to different tracks and learning. MC: I know at the time of the interview (oct of 2005) your currently the leading rider at Woodbine. What would that mean to you to be the leading rider at Woodbine at the close of the meet?
EJW: Well you know it was always a goal for me to be a jockey and to be the best that I could be and getting to be the leading rider at Woodbine would be a fantastic experience and with me being an apprentice and still learning so much and so much that needs to be done that is why I am trying to ride as many races as I can and learn as much as I can.
FOTH: A few weeks back I saw you win your 1st stakes win on TV up at Woodbine. (see news section for details) I saw the interview afterwards. Was that pretty much your proudest moment as a jockey so far?
EJW: It is hard to say. I like to take every day for what it is and whether it is a stakes race or a claiming race I try to ride as even as I can. The horse I won the stakes race on me and her have quite a history together, galloping her over the years and I know her very well. For me to win my 1st stakes race on her is like icing on the cake so to speak.
FOTH: Do you have any goals for yourself and how long would you like to ride for?
EJW: I have a whole list of goals that I would like to achieve and hopefully I will be able to obtain all of them. As far as riding goes, I want to ride as long as I physically can. It is always been a love of mine.
FOTH: If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to become a jockey, what advice would you give her?
EJW: It is all about having the right opportunities with the right people. I would tell her keep your head up and work hard and be a student of the game is key. Never hesitate to learn and watch and always listen.
FOTH: What are some hobbies or activities you like to do when your away from the racetrack?
EJW: There is a few hobbies I would love to be doing if I wasn't risking injury. I would love to be playing softball or rugby, but we have some other priorities on our plate. I am a very active kind of person. If I could be playing rugby without the possibility of getting hurt I would. (laughs) I enjoy video games and stuff like that.
FOTH: Take us through what you do in a typical day.
EJW: I usually get to the race track around 6:00 am and I try to see as many people as I can and after morning workouts I grab a bite to eat and head on over to the jockey's room and do my handicapping and plan my activities and my plan of action and ride ever race like it's a new day.
FOTH: Have you ever gone into the slot machine area and do you get recognized much by people outside the race track?
EJW: I have noticed now that people notice me, friends of my parents are like "yeah I saw your daughter on TV" and things like that. As far as the slots go I think I was over there one time with my grandmother for her birthday, but that was before I started riding.
FOTH: What is Woodbine like? Not just the track, but the area around it.
EJW: Woodbine is a great racetrack and it is a suburban area of Toronto and a lot of people can come and appreciate the horses and I used to come here all the time as a kid and it is greatly oriented toward the fan and the people on the backside are great. Everybody knows everybody and we have a long meet and you get to know everybody, so even when you go south for the winter, generally Woodbine is the mainstay where most Canadian is happening and it is close group and it's quite fun.
FOTH: Do you have any problems at all with your weight?
EJW: I am a natural light weight and I like to eat healthy and somebody being as physically active as I am, I try and eat as properly as I can and stay healthy and stay strong. Just like they say, you are what you eat. Eating at Mc Donald's is not going to give me the energy to ride like 10 races a day, 5 days a week.
FOTH: Do you feel with each race you are improving as a jockey?
EJW: Definitely. I like to be a student of the game. Learn as much as I can. I watch the replays of the races everyday and see what I could have done differently or what possibly I could have done better to finish better in the race.
FOTH: Emma, I am out of questions. Anything you want to say to wrap this up?
EJW: One of my main strong points was when you called me and told me you made a website dedicated to female jockeys, personally the way I see it is the more segregation we make upon ourselves is the more the segregation that people put on the female jockey. As I said before I am not a female jockey, I am a jockey that happens to be female.(Emma is entitled to her own opinion, but the one thing I wish I had explained to her was the reason behind the site was to help promote female jockeys as from my experience working at different racetracks since 1983 to the present and also going to many different tracks is that female don't get the credit they deserve and that was the reason the site started. I have worked in various jock's rooms at tracks and I have seen 1st hand what goes on. That being said I was glad that Emma agreed to be part of this site and I wish her well as all the rest of the fellow female riders-chris)