On the back of a stellar season of country racing an Esperance based jockey has taken home one of Racing and Wagering Western Australia's top honours.
Michelle Hagley was awarded the 2019 Leading Country Racing Association Jockey at the Thoroughbred Regional Racing and Apprentice Awards held at the Crown Casino on Thursday, September 27.
Hailing from Victoria, Ms Hagley has been racing for 21 years and currently competes across the state splitting her time between the Broome and Esperance country racing seasons.
Despite missing several meets over the 2018/19 season Ms Hagley took home 33 wins, 14 seconds and 23 thirds, totaling 183 points.
Ms Hagley said the award was made possible by the tremendous support she had received from her northern WA trainers and owners.
"It's brilliant to win, especially for all the hard work that we've all put in and all the travelling - it's not uncommon to do 1200km just for a race meeting," she said.
"I've had a brilliant season with my training and jockey and then to win this is pretty cool."
Since discovering a passion for training Ms Hagley balances her time with racing and said it's the thrill of the sport in both forms that keeps her hooked.
"Racing is what I do, I've been doing it since I was 14 and I have other qualifications but I keep coming back to this - I just love it," she said.
"You have to be determined and committed to getting up at three o'clock in the morning, you have to have a bit of fire.
"You have to be broad shouldered and a little bit crazy."
As well as competing in meets in Esperance and Broome Ms Hagley raced across the state including Carnarvon, Mount Magnet and Meekatharra.
Ms Hagley said despite the travel demands that come with country racing the support and recognition from the community makes it all worthwhile.
"I love the country racing, the people are so appreciative that you're there and a lot of these clubs really struggle to keep going," she said.
"We appreciate going there as well, it's just real down to earth people that appreciate you being there.
"It's a community and once you are part of the racing community you're always in it. "
Ms Hagley said she was looking forward to taking on the upcoming Esperance season as a dual license jockey and trainer.
The season kicks off at the Esperance Bay Turf Club on Saturday, November 23.