By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
A career in harness racing was never in the picture for Leah Hibell a few years ago, but now she has reined home her first winner.
Heading to Cambridge Raceway on Thursday, Hibell thought she was in with a chance of notching her first win in the opening race on the card with Del Shannon, and her instincts proved correct.
The Muscle Hill entire began well from his 20m mark and Hibell was able to find an early trail behind Our Pegasus Pearl before Dave McGowan took control of the race with True Story.
Not content with her position, Hibell elected to peel out and head to the lead with a lap to go where Del Shannon was able to keep his advantage and hold off the late challenge of Our Pegasus Pearl to win by three-quarters of a length.
“I am stoked to finally get my first driving win,” said Hibell, who was rapt to get the win in the silks of her employer, Nicky Chilcott.
“I thought he was a really good chance. Kimkar Dash was probably the one to beat but being 40m behind I had a major advantage.
“He stepped well and it worked out quite well.”
While she has been involved with horses her entire life, Hibell only became acquainted with standardbreds after a chance encounter with Brogden Lodge principal Graham Bowen.
“I have always ridden horses and knew I would do something with them,” Hibell said.
“I met Graham Bowen through his trucking company and did a few yearling preps for him.
“I then bumped into Nicky Chilcott and started working for her.”
After learning the ropes in Chilcott’s Cambridge barn, Hibell took up an opportunity to work for Hamilton trainers Graeme Rogerson and Dylan Ferguson before returning to Chilcott’s stable earlier this year to take up a foreman position.
“I have been here for about six or seven months and she has given me a lot of opportunities,” Hibell said.
“Being foreman has been a really good opportunity and a good step-up for me, which I really enjoy.”
It was during Hibell’s first stint with Chilcott that she set her sights on a career in the cart.
“About six months into working for Nicky I really started to enjoy it and thought it was something I would like to do,” she said.
Hibell holds aspirations of becoming a trainer in her own right and is enjoying learning under the tutelage of Chilcott.
“I would love to train at some point,” she said. “I am definitely in the right barn to learn more and expand my knowledge.”