The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
It may not hold quite the same amount of prestige as the ‘race that stops a nation’ but this weekend Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne gets the last ride aboard retiring stayer Precedence in the 2015 Sandown Cup.
Aboard a $101 roughie shot, Payne defied the odds on the first Tuesday of November this spring and became the first female jockey in history to win the Melbourne Cup with the Darren Weir-trained Prince Of Penzance.
Absent from this year’s Melbourne Cup field was the now 10-year-old Zabeel gelding Precedence, prepared by James Cummings.
Formerly trained by the ‘Cups King’ Bart Cummings, Precedence ran in four editions of the world’s richest handicap over the past five years when eighth in 2010, 11th in 2011, ninth in 2012 and his best result crossing sixth behind Protectionist in 2014.
Connections of the $1.95 million earner opted not to push the ageing Precedence with a run in the Cup this year, and his last start was a ninth of 10 runners behind The United States in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) on October 24.
Craig Williams had the ride that day but on the weekend when Precedence takes to the Sandown Hillside track over the two miles in the $150,000 Listed Sandown Cup (3200m), Payne will take the reins.
Payne, who rode her first Group 1 winner for the late great J.B. Cummings on Allez Wonder in the 2009 Toorak Handicap, has had just the one ride on Precedence.
She rode the always-honest horse back in March of 2009 for a fifth over 2000m at Caulfield, but is honoured to reunite with him all these years late for his career swansong.
Precedence has had six previous runs over two miles but is yet to finish in the money, Ladbrokes.com.au currently paying $51 for him to break the duck with an upset Sandown Cup win on Saturday.
Sandown Cup betting features five single figure hopes led by the Geelong Cup winner Almoonqith ($4.80) who is out to atone for a luckless 18th in the Melbourne Cup.
Raced by Dato’ Tan Chin Nam’s Think Big Stud, Precedence will also have Cummings’ long-time Victorian stable foreman Reg Fleming help lead him out one last time this weekend in a fitting finish according to Dato Tan’s Australian Racing manager Duncan Ramage.
“Michelle rode her first Group One winner for Dato and Bart and also had her first Melbourne Cup ride for them on Allez Wonder,” he told AAP this week.
“Reg spent a lot of time with Precedence at Saintly Place in Melbourne and James thought it was only fitting he be a part of his final race.”
After his Zipping Classic Day assignment the popular campaigner will start a new career as a show horse at a Victorian farm alongside other form Cummings-trained gallopers Sirmione and Moatize.
It is a different path to many of the other retired racehorses owned by the Malaysia-based Dato Tan who has a host of gallopers living out their days on his stud in the NSW Southern Highlands.
Ramage though is confident life as a show horse will suit the still zippy Precedence who hasn’t won a race since the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington in November of 2013 after his Moonee Valley Cup success that year.
“He is a good-gaited horse and the type to make a dressage-show horse,” Ramage said of the champion who will retire with 69 career runs his the record.
“Anyway we were a poor third on the list to get him.
“Reg was first and (co-owner) the Dowager Duchess of Bedford said she wanted to take him back to Woburn Abbey in England.”
While he is at big odds to finish his career on the track with a win, Ramage said he’d pulled up from his last run as good as ever.
“He pulled up so well from Moonee Valley we wanted to send him off in style,” he explained.
To check out the full Sandown odds for this weekend and back your favourites across the nine-race, all-black type card at the right price head to Ladbrokes.com.au now!
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