Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Unrealized dreams not such a bad thing

  • Print

2It's only a corny line from the Clint Eastwood movie Bridges of Madison County. However, for Alyssa Selman, 26, who once dreamed of being a full-time jockey only to end up working as an exercise rider at Assiniboia Downs, the line seems to fit.

"It (dreams) doesn't always work out for everybody," she said Thursday. "But I enjoy the work I am doing."

Galloping provides a steady paycheque, but the Stephenfield native never turns down a chance to ride and make a little extra money, and as her own agent, she saves 25 per cent of her winnings when she does get a ride. "Ideally it would be better to have an agent, but I do save the agent's fee."

Selman and her husband Rumesh (also a gallop rider and former jockey), begin each day around 4:30 a.m., when they get up and leave their son (Amar, 4) and daughter (Ari, 18 months) in the care of their grandparents, who own a farm near Carman.

"It's really not that bad," she says of the seven-day work week. "We start around 6 a.m., we're done by 11, and we're home by 2 p.m. The kids are asleep in the morning, so they don't really miss us that much, and they are awake when we get home."

This season, while riding part time, she has had 52 races with three firsts, six seconds and five thirds for $33,947 in earnings. Prior to this year, while riding under her maiden name of Harder, she had 331 starts (22-27-36) and earned $198,883; far from a winning record.

Every jockey knows that if you don't win regularly, you don't survive. But for Selman the wins never materialized. Still, her spirit was undaunted. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she altered her dream.

"I've had fun with it (riding)," she said. "And I love galloping in the morning. It's completely stress free, because there are no expectations, except for holding the horse sometimes."

She learned the basics at the groom school provided by the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and in 2004 she began working as a groom for trainer Emile Corbel. Later, she moved over to Clayton Gray's stable, where she also got the opportunity to ride a little, while still working as a groom.

The No. 10 all-around leading trainer, with six leading Downs' trainer titles under his belt, Gray saw something in Selman. "They sent her over to work for Corbel," he recalled. "She was just a little girl looking after 10-12 horses over there, but I could see she could ride, so she came to work with me."

Gray believes Selman is still young enough to make a go of it, if given the proper opportunities. "She's just got to get a little stronger finish in," he said. "I like to put her on my two-year-olds because she's got a lot of nerve, and she'll get them in the hunt.

"But she's got to ride (more) horses, and she never got a decent shot around here," he said pointing to various injuries and "one interruption after another."

One such interruption came during the 2010 season, when she dropped out midway through the schedule in order to give birth to her little girl. "Now they've taken her bug (apprenticeship) away, and not having that five-pound allowance makes it just that much tougher for her," Gray went on. "She works her heart out."

Most of the horses Selman manages to pick up rides on tend to be long shots, and tonight is no exception. In the fifth race she will ride a 15-1 gelding named Schmatz, and in the seventh she's on a 30-1 gelding named New Gun In Town. On Saturday she rides a 10-1 filly named Show Chrome in the eighth.

Post time tonight and Saturday is 7 p.m.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 7, 2012 C5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Drew Willy signs with Bombers through 2017

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Korea Veterans Association stained glass window at Deer Lodge Centre. Dedication with Minister of Veterans Affairs Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. March 12, 2003.

View More Gallery Photos


Do you plan to watch Saturday's boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google