Leah Hibell returns home after "amazing experience"
By Brigette Solomon
Cambridge-based junior driver Leah Hibell has just returned from her first international adventure, enthused and inspired by what's she seen.
The 23-year-old was awarded a 10-day working holiday in Australia for winning the second annual Revell Douglas Memorial series earlier this year. The series for junior drivers is a tribute to well-respected trainer and administrator Revell Douglas, who drowned at Karioitahi Beach near Waiuku in January 2021.
She spent her time at the stables of Brisbane trainers Chantal Turpin and Peter McMullen.
Exciting and nerve wracking are words Hibell used to describe how she felt prior to heading off.
“It was my first time flying internationally and to a place where I didn’t know anyone,” says Hibell, “but it turned out to be an amazing experience and I’m so grateful to Hygain and Revell Douglas’ family for creating the series for junior drivers.”
McMullen Racing Stables are based an hour out of Brisbane and while training racehorses is their main operation they have also expanded into breeding and stand two stallions, A Rocknroll Dance and Catch The Fire.
Peter McMullen has won the last three consecutive State Drivers' Premierships and the previous two Australian Drivers' Premierships, while Chantal has trained over 1000 winners. This, alongside their impressive Somerset Farms set up is the reason that they were chosen to host the Revell Douglas Memorial Series winner.
“Pete and Chantal were brilliant to work for, between the two of them they had plenty of knowledge to share and were even good enough to give me a couple of race day drives at Albion Park,” says Hibell.
“While I didn’t have any success, just being out there on a new track experiencing the Aussie style of racing was awesome.”
“The McMullens included me in all aspects of their training operation and stud, it was really great to see how they do things and how well everything runs when they are also racing five or six days a week,” says Hibell.
Throughout her stay Hibell was impressed by the amount of racing in Queensland with 11 meetings just in the 12 days she was there.
“My favourite race meeting was at Albion Park on my last night, the Team had three winners including a horse called Big Wheels who I was impressed with when I drove him in track work.”
As the Douglas Family intended, Hibell was left with an experience she will remember forever and has come home invigorated and motivated.
“As a young driver in the industry I’m taking every opportunity I can get to learn and gain experience and this trip has definitely provided both and left me looking forward to next year’s series.”
Hibell, who works for Nicky Chilcott in Cambridge, will be back in action at her home track on Thursday with four drives - Phoebe Majestic (R1), Messenger Buoy (R2), Miki Miksta (R3) and Del Shannon (R6).