Jockey Jonathan Riddell will cover plenty of territory this weekend in search of a Trans-Tasman Group race double.
The now Cambridge-based horseman will be back in action at his old stomping ground at Awapuni on Friday, where he rides consistent mare Artiste in the Gr.3 Property Brokers Arohanui Hospice Manawatu Breeders’ Stakes (2000m) for Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.
He will then make a dash to the airport to travel to Sydney where he has picked up the ride on Platinum Invador in Saturday’s Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick, with the son of Redwood backing-up after finishing eighth in last weekend’s Gr.2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) on a heavy10 surface at Rosehill.
Riddell was pleasantly surprised to get the call-up to ride the Lisa Latta-trained three-year-old in the A$2 million feature, with part-owner Neville McAlister delivering the news.
“I was a bit shocked when Neville McAlister rang me on Sunday, but it was nice of him to ring me. I thought he was just ringing for a chat,” Riddell said.
“I said to him ‘shit that was an ordinary run’, and Neville laughed and said ‘that’s what I am ringing about’.
“I just think he didn’t handle the track and Neville said yesterday that he coughed a little bit after the race, so maybe he swallowed a bit of the track with the kick back.
“At this stage his bloods and everything are right, so that’s what they are putting it down to.”
Platinum Invador was ridden by Sydney jockey Blake Shinn last weekend, who took over from veteran South Island jockey Chris Johnson, who had partnered the gelding at his three previous starts including his third placing, when coming from last, in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).
“They said we are just going to switch him off like Chris (Johnson) rode him in the Derby,” Riddell said.
“The other day he got the dream run but it may not have been ideal for the horse, I don’t know. He did run poorly and there is no buttering it up.
“For me, I am quite excited to go, so I’m not going to take in last week’s run and I will just trust that he is the horse that ran in the Derby and Avondale Guineas. They were two big runs.”
The talented rider has not ridden across the Tasman since partnering Manhattan Street in the Gr.2 Stutt Stakes (1600m) in 2016, while his most recent victory in Australia was aboard Platinum Kingdom, who raced in the same ownership as Platinum Invador, when landing the 2013 Gr.3 Fred Best Classic (1350m).
A former jumps jockey-turned flat rider, Riddell has more than held his own in Australia previously, partnering Jimmy Choux to win the 2011 Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and finished second on the star galloper in the Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) later that year.
Riddell will be heading straight to Palmerston North airport after partnering Artiste and said the six-time winning mare is a good chance of gaining some black-type on Friday, despite the wide draw in 13.
“She is a really honest mare and is in great form,” Riddell said. “She won really well last start and is from the Baker team, so she has a big chance. The draw is a bit tricky though.
“She races up there. She will probably slide forward and get behind the speed hopefully.
“I had a quick look at the noms and it looks a pretty even field and if they do get any rain on the day, I don’t think it would hurt her.”
Riddell was also complimentary of the improved home-bend at Awapuni, having ridden the course last weekend.
“I thought the home turn rode well last weekend and good on them for getting it done. I did find the other (temporary) corner a bit tricky to ride on,” he said. – NZ Racing Desk