Each week until opening day of the 2022 Woodbine Thoroughbred meet, a familiar name in the sport will be in the spotlight, answering some fun, offbeat questions, giving readers a unique perspective into their personality.
Multiple Grade 1 winning champion jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson started her riding career in 2004 and recorded her first win at Fort Erie that year. She quickly became Woodbine’s leading rider in 2005 as an apprentice rider. Wilson won both the Sovereign Award and Eclipse Award as Outstanding Apprentice Jockey in 2005, and captured both the Woodbine meet title and a second Sovereign Award as Outstanding Apprentice Jockey again in 2006. In 2007, Wilson made history, becoming the first female rider to win the Queen’s Plate aboard Mike Fox. Wilson has taken her talents across the world, including Hong Kong in 2008, captaining the Girls Team to an historic victory in the Shergar Cup at Ascot Racecourse in 2015. Wilson, who has dedicated her time and efforts to various charitable initiatives over the years, was named the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award recipient in 2018, honouring significant contributions to the sport of horse racing from a jockey. As of February 13, Wilson has 1,706 career wins.
If you were the lead in the next Spider-Man movie, who would be your co-stars and why?
“I thought about this for a little and I was thinking, ‘Should I pick Woodbine people, or should I pick movie stars?’ I would have to pick my wife, Laura, because she can be pretty fierce and we make a very, very good team. Plus, she looks really good in Lycra. If she was busy that day, I would have to go with Ryan Reynolds, from Deadpool, and Tom Hardy as Venom. They are epic in those roles, and I wouldn’t mind spending the day, hanging out with the those two. I think my wife would understand.”
If you could go back in time and ride one horse, who would it be and why?
“This is an interesting one because you go back in time and there are so many legendary horses to choose from. But, I’m going to go in a slightly different direction because I had quite the crush on Altior, especially during his unbeaten streak. His grit, his athleticism, and watching him jump over these fences like he has wings – it just has always made my heart skip. That’s something I’d love to do, to go over fences, but my agent [Mike Luider] wouldn’t like that. There was one race, the Tingle Creek, in 2018, where the jockey, Nico De Boinville, talked after the race how terrible the conditions were. But Altior just sailed over the fences. He’s struggling through this bog, and he just wills himself up and over them. It’s one thing to jump over the fence like he has wings over firm ground, but it’s another to see horse struggling with the ground, but he comes up and soars over these fences to win. It was unbelievable to watch.”
What is the best prank you’ve pulled on a fellow jockey?
“This is a tough one. There are two that were the best. The first one is when I scared [former rider] Gerry Olguin in the parking lot. He was getting his stuff out of his backpack and I walked up behind him. He had no idea I was there, and when he turned around, I was right in his face, and in a scary voice, I said his name. If you can imagine someone holding their backpack with one hand, nice and relaxed, and then screaming, that was it. He let out this blood-curdling scream and it was so funny. He walked away, cursing and laughing. He said, ‘Why do you have to do things like that?’ We still laugh about it to this day.”
“I like to scare people. There is a tunnel and a stairwell that goes in-between it at Woodbine. After each race, we have this tunnel that we can use to get back to the paddock. By one doorway in the stairwell there is a little storage area, which has a few different things in there. One day, I hid in a box by the stairwell, but I had to get in there ahead of time because I didn’t want anyone to know I was there. So, I hid in the box and set my cellphone up in another box and had it recording. I was in there for about 15 minutes – this is what I find myself doing when I don’t ride the card, getting into trouble – waiting patiently for my victim. It was quite the result… it was Jesse Campbell and Alan Garcia.”
Choose one place in the world (which you’ve never been to) to go with your family.
“Australia. It would have to be Australia. It’s the type of place you’d have to make a commitment to go for an extended period of time. There is so much there that I would love to see, including the races and racecourses. Racetrackers, I swear, are the only people that go on vacation and find their way to the racetrack. It’s our passion, it’s our love. My kids are absolutely in love with all animals and my wife has a healthy obsession with kangaroos, so with their fascination of animals, they could head off to a zoo to see koalas, wombats and other animals, and I would sneak off to visit some of the famous stallions in Australia. While my wife and kids were petting kangaroos, I’d scooch off for a bit to see the horses.”
You get to compete in one event at the Winter Olympics. Which one is it and why?
“It would be downhill skiing. That would be the top one on my list. The jockey position is very similar, I think. I wouldn’t have to get the kit. I could just wear my Spider-Man outfit.”