After a six month stint on the sidelines due to injury, jockey Ben Melham is back for a shot at more Group 1 glory in Adelaide this Saturday partnering Smokin’ Joey in the 2014 The Goodwood.
Pain in his hip forced the flying hoop out of racing in November last year, but he’s set to return with a bang at Morphettville Racecourse on the weekend.
“Ben stopped riding on November 16 [because of the pain] and had to wait until January 2 to have surgery on wear and tear issues in a hip,” Melham’s agent Matthew Alesci told The Australian.
“He began riding track work a couple of weeks ago and has been cleared to resume race riding this weekend.”
Last Adelaide Autumn Racing Carnival Melham was the hoop of the moment collecting a Group 1 treble.
A win in the SA Derby with Escado was followed by South Australia’s sprint double, Melham successful in both the Robert Sangster Stakes and The Goodwood aboard the Darren Weir-trained mare Platelet.
“Ben originally intended to resume at Flemington on Saturday, but he has such good luck when he goes to Adelaide and decided to go when the opportunity to ride in a Group 1 presented itself,” Alesci added.
While Platelet is back to defend her $500,000 Group 1 The Tapestry Wines Goodwood (1200m) title on Saturday, Melham won’t be aboard her again.
Brad Rawiller has the mount on the reigning champ, Platelet drawn out wide (17) and paying $7.50 to bounce back from a second in the Robert Sangster and become the first dual The Goodwood winner since Musket Belle (1911-12).
Melham meanwhile is set to partner the Wez Hunter-trained Encosta De Lago six-year-old Smokin’ Joey from barrier 12, into 10 if the two emergencies come out, as one of his three rides of the day before returning to Melbourne to ride at Sandown on Sunday.
Smokin’ Joey comes via four Melbourne runs this time in, their most recent effort being a distant sixth behind the Andrew Noblet-trained Sistine Demon in the Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m) at Caulfield on April 19.
Noblet returns home to Adelaide on the weekend with Excites four-year-old Sistine Demon who shoots for their third straight win in The Goodwood.
Sistine Demon is the current $7 co-favourite in The Goodwood betting too, the consistent and lightly-raced galloper sharing honours with Gai Waterhouse’s Robert Sangster Stakes winning mare Driefontein.
Having been beaten by over seven lengths in the Victoria Handicap, Smokin’ Joey is a roughie in The Goodwood odds paying $21 to turn the tables on their last start conqueror.
The other major player in the mix is local More Than Ready filly Miracles Of Life ($7.50).
She’s set to retire and go under the hammer as a broodmare prospect at the end of the month, but before that Daniel Clarken’s last start Euclase Stakes winner will shoot for a second Group 1 win to add to her Blue Diamond trophy from last year.
Another last start winner in the mix at more generous odds is then the Leon MacDonald & Andrew Gluyas-trained Bernardini four-year-old Essay Raider ($12).
Also representing the local hopes, Essay Raider ran on Robert Sangster Stakes Day a fortnight ago and put in a big run to win the Group 3 DC McKay Stakes (1100m) by three lengths.
Second in that run, the Richard Jolly-trained Karacatis also backs up in The Goodwood.
Drawn wide in barrier 19, one inside of Sistine Demon, Hussonet five-year-old Karacatis pays $21 as they shoot for their first win since the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on Boxing Day.
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