Versatile rider Kirsten Melis celebrates milestone

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Farrier, endurance rider, horse breaker, jockey, accomplished horsewoman. You can now add a successful trainer.

Kirsten Melis celebrated her first winner in Northam today (Thursday) after Oceanzara won the Wheatbelt Winterama Maiden (1300m).

With Holly Watson, an emerging apprentice on board, the four-year-old mare finished at full speed and beat the odds of favorite Better In Kit by half length with Lucie Manette third.

Oceanzara claimed her first win in 11 starts and broke her maiden status after four previous classifications for Melis at Pinjarra, Ascot, Bunbury and Northam.

Melis said she was thrilled to share a historic victory with a mare who helped launch her training career at Ascot last December.

“I am very excited and very happy,” Melis told The Races WA.

“I’m a bit on a high.

“I thought I might have had it earlier with this horse, but curved balls are thrown at you.”

“You don’t always get the races you want, but it’s finally happened.

“She has shown us that she is a tough little pocket rocket.

“I couldn’t be happier.”

Melis highlighted her versatility in 2013 when she competed in the Mongol Derby, an equestrian endurance race.

The race spans 1,000 km across the Mongolian steppe and is recognized as the longest race in the world.

Melis was born in Holland and her upbringing fostered a healthy appetite for adventure and travel.

In 2007, this desire to travel led her to Australia and New Zealand. She loved the Australian lifestyle so much that she decided to stay.

A Kojonup Cup winner as a jockey, Melis turned somewhat reluctantly to thoroughbred training about six months ago.

With a love of horses, she was not opposed to the idea, but with a busy and hectic workload, where would she find the time.

If she needed encouragement and encouragement, Melis didn’t have to look far. The partner and former top jockey, Paul Dyson, intervened.

“Paul drove me crazy to get my license,” Melis said.

“I was offered a few pre-coaches and then he said why not give it a try and get a coaching license.

“I thought about it and said why not.”

Dyson has enjoyed a successful career in the saddle and has won over 50 black type races, including the Group 1 WA Derby on Firing Range (1993).

He says he couldn’t be prouder of Melis.

“She will make the note,” Dyson said.

“She will never plan to have a lot of horses, but I can guarantee you her strike rate will always be good.

“I’m super proud and she did it all on her own.”

Melis and Dyson were in unison to congratulate Watson on Oceanzara.

The promising apprentice is riding the crest of a wave and celebrated her first metropolitan double at Belmont on Wednesday.

“She did a great job,” Melis said.

“She can really read a race and put them in the right place.

“She makes sure she doesn’t get into too much trouble.”

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