Top hoop Glyn Schofield believes he’s aboard a winning chance in the weekend’s sole black-type race partnering the Chris Waller-trained Eigelstein in the Winter Challenge 2015 at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
This year’s edition of the $100,000 Listed The Paslode Winter Challenge (1500m) features a small field of 10 gallopers, three of which are prepared by the season’s leading horseman Waller.
Waller trained the quinella in the Winter Challenge two years ago as well as last year’s trifecta led by subsequent dual Group 1 champ He’s Your Man, and is back in 2015 with three hopefuls.
One of those is European import Eigelstein who jumps from barrier eight with Schofield riding on 54.5kg.
A rising eight-year-old son of Dubawi, Eigelstein has had 25 starts for four wins but hasn’t enjoyed success on the track since a 1600m win in a BenchMark 94 at Randwick in June last year.
His lead-up form into the Winter Challenge however has been promising including a last start third behind Kenjorwood in the Shoot Out Mile, also run over 1600m at Randwick, when Tye Angland had the ride on July 11.
Schofield replaces Angland in the saddle on Saturday in a jockey – horse combination Waller is hoping will help Eigelstein break the drought.
The jockey boasted a great association with ace miler Boban under Waller’s watchful eye and is looking to have the same connection with his new mount this weekend.
“I haven’t ridden him before but I hope I am (a good luck charm),” Schofield told Racing and Sports.
“He hasn’t won in a while, but when you ride a Chris Waller horse at Rosehill on a Saturday you know you’re in with a chance.”
Twice this preparation Eigelstein has been narrowly beaten by his better fancied stablemate You’ll Never who also runs in the Winter Challenge on Saturday along with Waller’s last start Winter Stakes winner Rugged Cross.
Without ruling out the challenge presented by You’ll Never, the Commands gelding out to atone for a luckless seventh in the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) from July 18, Schofield is tipping improvement from his ride though with Eigelstein to appreciate a Soft-rated track as opposed to the muddy Heavy courses he’s dealt with this campaign.
“If he can get a bit better traction on this soft track then he can easily reverse the result and make up that length or so he needs, but, then again, You’ll Never could go better too,” he said.
Rosehill is currently rated a Soft (7) and is tipped to improve further before Saturday’s showdown, which will only work to his advantage.
“The heavy tracks this time of the year have been a huge difference and I think there might be a few surprises with the form on Saturday,” Schofield said.
“The slow tracks are helping horses, that may get a bit sore on a firm surface, run well in races without an issue but on these heavy tracks they’re forced to work harder which makes it tough.
“Despite travelling well during races, the ones that don’t handle it are in trouble from the 600 metres on a heavy track when the pressure is on.”
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