Grace McEntee hopes victory in the Racing Excellence Hands And Heels All Weather Apprentice Series is a sign of things to come for the rest of the year.
The 19-year-old was crowned winner of the nine-race series after finishing second on Bernie’s Boy, trained by her father Phil, in the final round at Lingfield on Saturday.
McEntee’s 67 points topped the standings of the competition – which was open to apprentices who had ridden no more than 10 winners before November 15 last year.
McEntee said: “I had led the series for most of the way, so it was very much in my hands on Saturday, but luckily I did enough to win it by two points.
“It was a target at the start of the all-weather season – I said I would like to win it – so to actually achieve it is pretty good.
“Dad has helped me try to make sure I had rides in all of the races, which has been a big help, so it is a team effort.”
McEntee, who recently had her claim reduced from seven to five pounds, won three rounds of the series en route to the trophy and £1,000 for first place – and one of those victories in particular still stands out for her.
She said: “I’d probably say the winner on Haddaf for Stuart Williams and owner Tom Morley was the best performance, because he was an easy winner that won on the bridle.
“It was nice to win a race for Stuart – he gave me my first winner in Britain. I won the race for him the year before on Lunar Deity, which was my first winner as an apprentice.
“The main goal was the hands-and-heels series, and the second one was to do well in the overall all-weather apprentice championship.
“Things are going well, and to be sitting in second is great. Hopefully I can finish in the top three – and that would be amazing.
“I’m more confident in myself now than I was six months ago – my decision-making is much better, and that is being channelled through the horses.”
With McEntee well on track to beat last year’s total of 11 winners, she hopes to continue catching the eye of outside yards once the turf season starts.
She added: “I am getting outside rides and I am very grateful for them, but it would be great to have them on a more consistent basis.
“To do that I’ve just got to keep the ball rolling on the all-weather and just ride as many winners as I can.
“If you’d asked me six months ago if I would be in this position, I don’t think I would have believed it.”