Apprentice jockey Patrick Moloney has a tough Group 1 test this weekend partnering the Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained Nostradamus from a wide gate in Caulfield’s Oakleigh Plate 2015.
One of three elite levels on the Blue Diamond Stakes Day program this weekend, the $400,000 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) features a final field of 18 sprinters.
Out in barrier 14 for Team Hawkes is Moloney’s ride, three-year-old Medaglia D’Oro colt Nostradamus.
The last three-year-old Oakleigh Plate winner was the Leon Corstens-trained Starspangledbanner back in 2010, Nostradamus one of three on the 50.5kg minimum looking to be the next.
The other two youngsters in the field are both fillies with Blue Diamond Stakes winner Earthquake and Eloping.
Saturday will be Moloney’s second Group 1 ride after he partnered $201 roughie Magnus Reign to his 16th place finish behind superstar sprinter Lankan Rupee 12 months ago.
“It was a good opportunity last year to learn as because I was on a horse that wasn’t overly fancied I was able to absorb everything like a sponge,” Moloney told Racing Victoria.
“The increase in pressure in a Group 1 race is unbelievable, I was in shock initially and I suppose the way the pressure goes up a notch is like the difference between a football game in the regular season compared to a final.”
This year his mount Nostradamus pays $13 in the latest Oakleigh Plate odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The markets are led on $5 by the John O’Shea-trained Earthquake with the light weight first-up.
Moloney, who has ridden 141 winners including 45 at metropolitan meetings since he started riding in July 2012, however is just thrilled to have an elite level ride on one of the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival’s premier race days again.
“I feel quite privileged to get another opportunity to ride in a Group 1 race, especially for the Hawkes family who have trained so many Group 1 winners, so to get an opportunity for them is a career-highlight for sure,” Moloney said, explaining he started riding for the stable when Hawkes Racing’s go-to hoop Dwayne Dunn was out injured back in 2013.
“I had quite a bit of success with Team Hawkes when Dwayne was injured and although it’s been a while since I’ve ridden for them, thankfully I can ride light and was given the opportunity.”
Winner of the Group 3 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill last August, Nostradamus also ran fifth to Hallowed Crown when beaten only two lengths in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) in September.
He caught the eye again when second to Brazen Beau in the Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) in October at Royal Randwick but failed in his Melbourne debut behind the same Chris Waller-trained horse in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Derby Day.
Nostradamus resumes here in the Oakleigh Plate and is undefeated first-up with two wins from as many attempts.
That record, the light weight and his form around recent Black Caviar Lightning Stakes runner-up Brazen Beau are all positives for Nostradamus.
The wide gate however is an obvious blow.
History does show though that double digit Oakleigh Plate barriers haven’t equaled a death sentence for horses in recent years.
Mrs Onassis (2013) won from 11, Swiss Ace (2009) from 18 then Undue (2007) was the last to do it from barrier 14.
“He’s got good form first-up, the draw probably doesn’t help him a lot but he’s got 50.5kg and with that weight he’s got to be a chance,” Moloney said.
“He’s got to prove himself against these older more-seasoned horses and the draw makes my job that little bit more challenging to try and find some cover and get a nice run into the race.”
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