CHAMPION jockey Greg Ryan went to his old home town of Wellington on Saturday thinking he had three reasonable chances, one rough hope and one ride that would struggle.
Proving that jockeys are not always the best judges, Ryan walked away with four winners - and that one he thought would struggle, Side On, was one of them.
Mudgee trainer Jeff Brasch provided two of the winners, Juste Heaven Sent and Mind You, while he combined with Orange’s Alison Smith (Side On) and Mudgee’s Brett Thompson (Very Sheik) for the other two.
“ I can’t remember if I’ve ridden four winners at Wellington before or not but I know I haven’t ridden five so I’ve either equalled my best day there or set a new one,” Ryan said.
“It was a good day out and it was nice because there were a few locals hanging over the fence congratulating me, including some people I knew before I started riding.
“I thought I had three competitive rides with Very Sheik, Mind You and Seattle Chic, a rough hope with Juste Heaven Sent and I didn’t think Side On could win because he’s only little and there were some tough old horses like Rockbuster and Panov in his race.
“As it turns out he did a good job and beat Rockbuster in the last stride.”
After not having a ride in the Elders Finance Maiden Plate (900m), Ryan’s day started when he was legged aboard Juste Heaven Sent ($4.40) in the Plasto and Company Plate (1700m).
After sitting just off the speed, Ryan produced the four-year-old mare at the right time and withheld the late burst of Miss Platinum ($21.00, Tiffany Jeffries).
In the following event, the Brett Thompson-trained Very Sheik ($3.20) wore down $2.10 favourite Kindness to win the Bell River Thoroughbreds Class 1 Handicap (900m).
“I knew Mathew’s would be the hardest to beat in that and I thought the 900m was against Very Sheik, but he was drawn barrier one so I was able to be where I wanted throughout the run,” Ryan said.
“He sprinted well when I let him go in the straight and won nicely.
“Juste Heaven Sent is a bit of a headcase. She had a good run but when she got to the front she pulled up a bit and when Tiffany’s horse came at her, she picked up again.
“Out of the ones I rode she probably has the most potential because she’s won two of the past three and she has no idea, If the penny drops with her she’ll end up being a nice horse.”
The Speddo’s Hire Maiden Plate (1100m) wasn’t a pretty affair for Ryan, who was caught wide on $4.40 favourite Seattle Chic, trained by his sister Karen McCarroll, and could only watch on as Kacie Chater led all the way with Brasch’s new stable acquisition Fastnet Felicity.
“I spoke with Jeff about that mare because he got her from Peter Moody and she is well bred,” Ryan said.
“She got injured and hadn’t shown much in Victoria and he told me she isn’t much of a worker on the training track.
“But she turned up and won well. I couldn’t get in from the barrier on Karen’s horse and it had no luck at all.”
Rebounding from the disappointment of the fourth race, Ryan bounced back to ride the final two winners - Side On and Mind You.
Side On ($7.00) came from back in the field to wear down Rockbuster ($2.50 fav, Catherine Markwort) in the Neil Veech Memorial (1400m) while Mind You ($3.20 fav) sat on the speed and proved to good for his rivals in the last event.
“Side On was the one I thought had no chance and it went well so I was happy to be wrong,” Ryan said.
“Mind You is a bit funny in his joints and doesn’t like firm surfaces so the rain on Friday and the soft track probably played into his hands.”
Ryan has a busy week coming up with riding commitments at Tamworth today and Cessnock tomorrow, as well as Orange on Friday.