Tara Hemmings is a jockey I know quite well as I usually see her 4-5 times a week and since the last interview I did with her was years ago I asked her if she would want to do a new updated one and she agreed and below are her answers to my questions I posed to her:
FOTH: What would you say is there biggest difference in doing a female jockey challenge at Parx your home base and Hoosier and the one you did somewhere else? How big is the girl’s jocks room in these places?
TH: It was great going to Hoosier because I got to travel to another track and see how the track at Hoosier was, it is always exciting to travel to other tracks and see a different park of the country also you get to meet different people. And Hoosier treated us great. It was great to compete here at Parx also, my home track, in front of everyone that gets to see you ride everyday. I also rode in a female jockey challenge in Jamaica and that was great, I had a blast there and again we were treated so great. As far as the female jocks room goes are room at Hoosier was much bigger than the one here at Parx.
FOTH: What are some early memories you have now of riding in your 1st year? Did you think come 2012 you would be still riding races?
TH: Obvious winning my first race. Also I got to ride a nice filly Final Dispersal for trainer Scott Lake, I won 8 races on her one of them being the claiming crown preview her at Parx (it was known as Philadelphia Park at the time).
FOTH: Is there any track that you would like to ride at one day that haven't yet? Where is the horse 'Banjo Picker" at these days?
TH: I would have loved to have ridden at Garden State Park, because of the history at the Cherry Hill oval and also because it was such a beautiful track, but unfortunately my first year here was GSP last. As far as Banjo goes he is at a farm enjoying his well-deserved retirement. I took him to the ReRun horse show in October and competed in a hand walking class with him (the class was called "The War Horse") it was so much fun I enjoyed showing him and he loved it also.
FOTH: How do you prepare to ride in the cold and does that bother you at all? And I'll go there other way; does it ever get too hot to ride in the summer where you feel you’re going to pass out?
TH: I hate the cold but to ride in the cold I put layers of clothes wear a face mask and I use hand and foot warmers. And lots of cups of tea. (LOL) In the heat I just try to stay very well hydrated (water and Gatorade).
FOTH: Do you feel you have a certain riding style and who taught you how to ride?
TH: My style I guess is a cross between American and English style. I learned to ride in England. Over in England you take care of three horses and you do everything you tack them up, you exercise them, walk them after they come from the track and then groom them.
FOTH: I know you did a jockey challenge in Jamaica now too long ago. How did you end up getting asked to do that and how were the crowds and the quality of horses there.
TH: They needed another female jockey and someone suggested me, so they contacted me and I went. It was a great experience; they treated so well over there. They had huge crowd there the day I rode. The quality of horses weren't much (at least the ones I rode LOL).
FOTH: How long would you like to ride for and do you think after you retire you will stay involved in horse racing one way or another?
TH: I just take it day by day I still enjoy riding. After I am done riding I will still gallop for a while.
FOTH: I know after a jockey's first win they get him/her after the get to the jock's room. Have you had the chance to do that to somebody yet?
TH: No not yet.
FOTH: What was the funniest practical joke you saw played on somebody?
TH: Just some of the usual horseplay in the jocks room shaving cream in other jocks boots or shaving cream in the sleeves of the silks.
FOTH: Take me through what a typical race day is like for you these days?
TH: I wake up at 5:15 and start the day with a cup of tea, then I tend to my pets(1 dog and 3 cats) I get to the track at 5:50 to get my first horse and usually get on 8 to 10 horses a morning when I am done I head home.
FOTH: I know your husband Steve is a trainer. Would that be something you might like to do one day does being a trainer or a horse owner interest you at all?
TH: No, I have no interest in training long hours and you need to win races to make any money and it is a very stressful job.
FOTH: If some girl came up to you and said she wanted to become a jockey, what advice would you give her?
TH: I would tell anyone that would want to become a jockey first of all it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Start from the ground up learn all the aspects of working with horses like the jocks use to. And for a female I would tell them they have to work extra hard to get the respect of a male dominated profession. And they need to get thick skin, because it is that much harder for a female rider not only with the male jockeys but the trainers and owners also. So they really have to be dedicated.
FOTH: Looking back was becoming a jockey easier or harder than you thought it was going to be and why?
TH: It was harder and some of the reasons I answered in the previous question. Being a female jockey you have to work extra hard to earn the respect of your fellow riders (male riders) and the trainers also. It is tougher for a female rider in a male dominated profession.
FOTH: The morning that you getting ready ride a race in say an hour or so. Do you look over the program at all to see how you hope the race plays out or do you do pretty much do what the trainer tells you what to do?
TH: I always handicap the race and the horse I am on, horses for the most part always run to their form. You look to see if he likes to be in front or came off the pace. And I always take in the advice the trainer gives me they usually know their horse and what they like and don't like.
FOTH: I know you have ridden down at Atlantic City Race Track the past few years when they do a short meet in April/May. Is riding on that turf course as good as I have heard it to be?
TH: Yes I loved the turf course at AC it's a great turf course. The best turf course I have ever ridden on.
FOTH: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
TH: Don't really know I just take things day by day.
FOTH: What is the funniest thing you can remember seeing on a racetrack?
TH: Can't recall the funniest thing but the craziest thing was when I was in Jamaica, the grooms that led the horses back and forth from the track were barefooted I couldn't believe it.
FOTH: Do you think your thumbs are ever going to fall off due to a certain someone always asking you to put your thumb up?
TH: They might Chris (lol) with all the pics you guys make us take with our thumbs up.
FOTH: Any last words and thumbs up for this 2nd interview.