Simona Laubeová overcoming injury and bad luck
The school for apprentices at Prague Velká Chuchle racecourse provides a good opportunity for young people to learn to care for racehorses and start on their way towards becoming a jockey and working with horses. Each September, there is a new intake of teenagers – nowadays mainly girls – and the hardest-working and most talented can progress quite quickly.
However, even talent and hard work cannot ensure smooth progress. Simona Laubeová joined the school in 2016, and twice won the Hipospol Cup apprentice riders’ championship. Soon after leaving the school, she took third place in our professional jockeys’ championship. She worked for leading trainer Allan Petrlík, and, for example, she has at least three times won the prize awarded by Diane Hill and James Fry for preparing the best-turned-out horse in one of the races on Velka Pardubicka day.
The following interview was made by Jana Šejnohová, whose interviews with Czech horseracing people often appear on our Dostihový svět website. It appeared in early November 2023, when Simona had ridden in more than 100 races over a period of 26 months, without a winner. You will be glad to hear that Jana Šejnohová’s interview changed Simona’s luck, and on her last day of rides in the 2023 season, Simona rode Zoja Top to victory at Prague Velká Chuchle. By now, she will have had an operation to stop her shoulder dislocating. And after rehabilitation, I hope her extended period of bad luck will be behind her.
Simona Laubeová: It took me right down to the bottom
Simona Laubeová twice won the Hipospol Cup for apprentice riders, and in 2020 she took third place in the professional flat racing jockeys’ championship behind Jan Verner and Tomáš Lukášek. After a weaker season in 2021, when she registered five winners, she suffered a lengthy lean period, such as our other riders have also experienced, for example Jaromír Šafář, Jan Verner and Adam Florian. A period of waiting for the next success! However, none of those others had to wait for as long as Simona Laubeová, a rider who has been living for some time with an unpleasant shoulder injury, and as of the beginning of November 2023 had been waiting for more than two years and over a hundred rides for hr next win. Then, on her last day of the season before the long winter break, she won on Zoja Top! This interview was taken before Simona’s run of losers came to an end.
Simona, your last winner was ages ago – in August 2021 at Slušovice. What is it like to go so long without a winner?
It’s a horrible feeling. It took me right down to the bottom. I even told myself I’d give up riding, but I realized that it wouldn’t be possible to be without horses, because I’d miss them. I decided to carry on, because when I stop it shouldn’t be just because I haven’t been winning for some time. I wouldn’t want to seem to be running away from the battle!
Some people may not know that you have been suffering for quite a long time with a shoulder that has repeatedly dislocated itself, and that you are soon going to have an operation on it.
Unfortunately I’ve been having long-term problems with my shoulder, and Saturday (November 4th) will be my last day of riding this year, because I’m going to have an operation on Thursday (November 9th). The operation is the only way to be able to function again like before.
And health problems have cost you a number of rides, and not only this season.
It’s true. I could have had more rides. I’ve been offered some horses, and then I kept making some kind of awkward movement and my shoulder would go out, And because it’s not possible to ride in that state, I had to miss the rides.
In a few days the pain will be over, and you will be able to start your rehabilitation. When is your estimated return to the saddle?
The doctor said I’ll be four weeks in a cast, after which the rehabilitation will begin, It varies from person to person. We’ll see how quickly it goes, and how much pain I’ll have to deal with. In any case, I’d like to get back into the saddle as soon as I can.
Apart from the problems with the shoulder, you’ve been struggling with your weight this year. Is it getting better?
In the course of the year, in spite of all my efforts, my weight went up and reached about 55 kilogrammes, which was not acceptable. Now I’m back to about 53 kilogrammes, and I’m glad to say my weight has stabilized.
I bet that you aren’t getting ready to go abroad for the winter, and that you are not looking for a change of job. Am I right?
Changing jobs? No, I’m staying at home and in the job where I’ve been working for the last year. At Bošovice, working for Václav Luka junior.
On Saturday (November 4th), when you’ll be riding for the last time this year, you’ll have three interesting chances to bring your losing streak to an end. Which of them do you believe in most?
My main hope is Zoja Top, because I rode her on her debut and I liked her a lot. She was able to handle everything, and she knew straightaway what racing is about. Clash of the Stars is also good. I know her from work. She went really well on her debut, and I think she can aim quite high. Anhor is an old matador. If the race suits him, he can finish somewhere near the front. They’re not bad rides, but the races are quite open.