Apprentice jockey Chris Parnham could get the final city win he needs to outride his claim on Saturday after being called up by Wez Hunter to ride Smokin’ Joey in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse.
Ben Melham has ridden the seven-year-old gelding in his past eight starts but is committed to the Peter Moody-trained Dissident in the same race, which means Hunter had to search for another jockey.
Since Parnham is on loan to the trainer he didn’t have to look very far.
“He’s over here pretty much as a senior jockey and he’s a gun,” Hunter said via Sky Racing.
“He’s riding Joey on Saturday.”
While Parnham cannot use his claim in the 2015 Australia Stakes, Hunter is still happy he was able to secure the Western Australian-based hoop. He has ridden 78 metropolitan winners in his home state and claimed his first stakes win in Melbourne at Sandown Racecourse on Boxing Day aboard the Leon and Troy Corstens-trained Tried And Tired in the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m).
After nominations for the Australia Stakes were extended until Tuesday morning, Mourinho and Hard Stride have joined Smokin’ Joey as one of 12 potential runners.
The gelding finished outside the placings in all four of his starts in Melbourne during the spring so Hunter decided to head west for the Perth Summer Racing Carnival. Unfortunately, he finished just outside the first three in fourth place in both the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m).
Smokin’ Joey has had a let-up since his Perth campaign, which has freshened the horse up.
“He had three weeks in the paddock and he freshened up really well,” Hunter said.
“Obviously he is coming back from 1800 metres to 1200 so we haven’t had to do a lot with him but he’s in good order.”
He could also defend his Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) title on May 16 depending on his form.
Betting markets for the 2015 Australia Stakes will open shortly after the final field is released on Wednesday.
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