A FORM jockey and a talented mare – that is the combination Bathurst trainer Andrew Ryan hopes can lead to victory in Saturday’s Highway Handicap (1,400 metres) at Rosehill Gardens.
The five-year-old mare Andrew Ryan trains in partnership with his father Don – Ave – will have Eleanor Webster-Hawes in the saddle as she lines up for her third Highway Handicap race this season.
At the start of October Ave placed eighth at Randwick – but had improved from 15th with 400 of the 1,400m to go – while two weeks later over a longer 1,800m trip at the same track, placed an impressive second.
She has recovered well since then, so the Ryans were more than happy to once again aim the Roman Emperor x Indirect mare at the race for country trainers.
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“I’m very happy with her. She’s making into a nice little mare, we’re very pleased with her,” Andrew Ryan said.
“We’re relatively confident, if it was a mile we’d probably be a little bit more confident, but we’re happy to take her down and give it a go. It’s good prize money, good conditions, so it never hurts to go down and give it a go.
“It’s a wonderful initiative because it gives us country people the chance to win good prize money. Sometimes you run into good country horses – Matthew Dunn and people like that, there’s a horse from Canberra and one of Gayna Williams’ – but it’s great to race against country horses and it’s a great concept.”
Webster-Hawes is Ave’s regular jockey and Ryan is full of praise for her skills.
She rode a winner at Nowra earlier this week and in her last 12 assignments, has placed top-three eight times.
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“She knows the mare so well and she rides our horses so well. The last sort of half of dozen rides she’s won three, had two seconds in Sydney – so she’s really on fire,” Ryan said.
“She’s got great hands … we don’t give her any instructions, we leave it to El, she knows the mare better than we do.
“Down there it’s better if you don’t get too far back because they’re hard to run down. But that’s the way she seems likes to race, Eleanor believes it is better to get her balanced and get her settled and then give her a nice shot at them.”
Saturday’s race is set to jump at 1.10pm.