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Apprentice rider Travis Wolfgram cannot take advantage of his claim in Saturday’s Winter Stakes 2015 but top Sydney trainer Gai Waterhouse is putting her faith in the young hoop booking him to ride her returning galloper Spurtonic.
The feature race at Rosehill Gardens this weekend the $100,000 Listed Sydney Markets Limited Winter Stakes (1400m) jumps as Race 7 at 3:55pm (AEST) and there are 11 remaining hopefuls after the scratching of Royal Island (3) and Instrumentalist (10).
Leading the close Winter Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au is Two Blue ($4.20), Kristen Buchanan’s consistent mare coming off a second in the Listed Civic Stakes (1350m) from a fortnight ago on a wet Randwick track.
Another mud course is calling this weekend and the best fancied daughter of Dubleo is a known mudlark with a tidy Heavy track record (7-2-3-1).
Heading the Winter Stakes weights on 59kg meanwhile is Waterhouse’s Flying Spur five-year-old Spurtonic who hasn’t raced since injuring himself and running dead last when 11th behind Index Linked in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) at Caulfield on February 28.
He has been over Heavy going just once before but on Soft tracks has run two seconds from three attempts.
Coming off two lead-up trials on rain-affected Sydney tracks, Spurtonic is yet to prove himself in the conditions and as such is paying $13 for the win.
His first-up record is 50-50 with three wins from six resuming runs, something Waterhouse is hoping he can add to this weekend.
Trying to bring him on for the Winter Stakes, Waterhouse has had the rising six-year-old going over the jumps with 20-year-old Wolfgram in the saddle, something the horse looked far more comfortable doing than his young hoop.
“I had only been here a couple of weeks and Mrs Waterhouse said can you put that one over the jumps. I had never done it before and didn’t really know what to do,” Wolfgram, who has ridden 153 winners over his career to date, told The Sydney Morning Herald this week.
“There is a definite skill to it and I’m not going to change my profession to do it full-time.”
Wolfgram was recruited from Queensland to Sydney by Waterhouse’s Tulloch Lodge stable following a string of nice rides, the up-and-comer having been in NSW for around three months and securing 18 metropolitan mounts in that time.
On Saturday he’ll have another in the Winter Stakes on Spurtonic who won the $300,000 Magic Millions Cup (1400m) at the Gold Coast back in January, Wolfgram partnering the proven Black-Type performer in a jumps hitout on Thursday morning.
“He loves it. He definitely likes it more than I do,” Wolfgram said.
“He knows exactly what to do and enjoyed it. I have ridden him a couple of times in work and he is a lovely horse.
“He has good fresh form and even though he has a big weight, he is very strong and it won’t be a problem.
“If you look at his form he won the Magic Millions Cup first-up last time and can run a strong 1400m fresh in his campaigns.”
Thrilled to have the big opportunities like the Winter Stakes run this weekend in Sydney, Wolfgram is also happy to be riding alongside bit name hoops like Hugh Bowman, Blake Shinn and James McDonald.
“To get the call to come down to Mrs Waterhouse was exciting and it is a great place to learn. She has just taken me along slowly but this is a great opportunity,” he said.
“It is great to be riding a horse like Spurtonic, which is a good chance, but when you look at the names of the other jockeys, I haven’t ridden against them in a race like this.
“It is probably the biggest race I have ridden in but I’m going to go out and do my best. You learn so much from riding against these jockeys and watching them.”
Waterhouse is also represented in this year’s Winter Stakes field and markets by four-year-old Liberty’s Choice ($9) to be ridden by Tommy Berry first-up off two nice trials in the wet last month.
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