BLAKE Spriggs does not boast the cup-winning resumes of higher profile jockeys in the $3m Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Saturday but the Newcastle hoop knows how a horse should be working leading into a big race.
And Spriggs couldn’t be happier with Sir John Hawkwood.
The John Thompson-trained gelding has not put a foot wrong since winning the Metropolitan and “felt terrific” in his final gallop at Flemington on Thursday.
“Even though I have never ridden in a Caulfield Cup, during my time at Gai Waterhouse I rode a lot of nice horses,” Spriggs said. “I rode Fiorente in work for a few weeks. He was obviously a Melbourne-Cup winner. I do know what a good horse should be working like. This horse gives me the feel of a top-quality horse. The fact that it is a Caulfield Cup brings my feet back to ground. Whether he wins or not, that is to answered, but I’m confident the horse will run a good race.”
A former English stayer, Sir John Hawkwood hasn't missed a place in nine starts and has three wins and two seconds in seven races over 2400m.
If successful on Saturday he would join Railings (2005) and Tawqeet (2006) as recent winners of The Metropolitan-Caulfield Cup double.
Spriggs was supremely confident leading into the Randwick feature on October 1 and is equally positive about the eight-year-old chances on Saturday.
“Every day I ride him, he gives me that little bit more confidence that he is going to run well,” said Spriggs, who has ridden the horse in his past 10 starts. “Horses don’t work the way he is working without being competitive in these sorts of races. His win in the Metrop suggests he should be around the money. We just need a little bit of luck in running.”
Spriggs had his first race look at Caulfield on Wednesday, finishing eighth on the King Of England.
“It was more about getting my bearings, knowing exactly where I was on the track at certain times of the race and where to expect the pressure to start,” he said. “I have watched video of the last five years of the Caulfield Cup, there is a bit of a pattern. No race is the same but it gives me a bit of an idea.”
The 24-year-old expects to get a “bit antsy” on Saturday morning. His mother, Chick, brother Ductins and family friends Terry and Wendy Mullens are making the trip south for the race.
“It will be good to have them there,” he said. “I have to say, I have had about 200 messages of support from Newcastle. Whether I know them or not, sending facebook or text messages, saying good luck and that they will be there with me.”