Two of WA racing’s brightest young stars are closer than most off the track, but fierce competitors on it.

Lucy Warwick and Chris Parnham have enjoyed a rapid rise to stardom, gaining national attention for their success in the saddle.

Outside racing’s hectic schedule, the 17-year-olds have been dating for about six months.

But on the track, they put their relationship to one side and treat each other like any rival jockey.

“You obviously have to be competitive, but we’re always happy with each other having success,” Warwick said. “We help each other a bit, but it does get competitive.”

Parnham also has his older brothers, Steven and Brad, to compete with. “You just treat them like anyone else in races. You don’t give them any favours,” Parnham said.

In their short careers, Warwick and Parnham have dominated the WA apprentice ranks and matched the best of the State’s senior riders. Leading trainers in Victoria and New South Wales are taking notice.

Late next month, Warwick will start a three-month stint in Melbourne with trainers Leon and Troy Corstens. “When I first started riding my main aim was to get over to Melbourne and ride in a Melbourne Cup,” Warwick said. “It’s a bit far-fetched, I know, but you’ve got to have big aims.”

Parnham is keen to join Warwick in Melbourne at the same time. He was given a golden opportunity from the Corstens stable at Sandown last Friday and delivered, winning the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m) on Tried And Tired.

“Some time next month I’ll go over for a stint, hopefully for a few months,” Parnham said.

“It’s obviously a different league of riders over there. “It’s a different atmosphere and it’s always exciting riding at a new place.”

Parnham and Warwick hail from two of WA racing’s most famous families. Parnham’s father, Neville, has won a record 13 Perth trainers’ premierships, earning him induction into The West Australian WA Racing Industry Hall of Fame last month.

Chris grew up watching Steven and Brad rise through the ranks and his grandfather, Harold, enjoyed a successful career as a trainer and jockey.

Warwick’s father Justin, grandfather Trevor and his brothers Colin and Barry, her great-grandfather Bill, her uncle Aiden and mother Carol won a combined 8000 WA harness races as trainers or drivers. After her parents switched codes to thoroughbreds, Warwick joined the team and became the family’s first apprentice jockey.

Family ties have led to the boom teenagers gaining key rides in tomorrow’s Perth Cup.

Both will ride for their trainer fathers, with Parnham aboard Bass Strait and Warwick to partner Lucciola.

Bass Strait gave Parnham the biggest win of his career in the Group 3 RJ Peters Stakes (1500m) last month. He ran a close third to brilliant mare Elite Belle last start in the CB Cox Stakes (2100m). “The only question mark is if he’ll stay,” Parnham said. “He’s done really well this prep. He’s been good to me.”

Lucciola ran seventh in the Cox Stakes, but is a proven stayer. “This whole prep she’s been racing well, but she’s been up against some top stayers,” Warwick said.
“She drops back to the minimum weight which should help. “She always puts in a good run. She’s a trier.”

Real Love, a dominant favourite, stands in the way of Parnham or Warwick winning the Group 2 feature. But going on the hot start to their careers, a Perth Cup win won’t be far away for the young hoops.
One thing’s for certain, Chris Parnham and Lucy Warwick will be household names in WA racing for many years to come.

The West Australian