BLAKE Spriggs has the big-race bug but the Newcastle jockey will have to wait until later in the week to find out if his mount Sir John Hawkwood will press on to the Melbourne Cup.
The eight-year-old stayer finished a gallant 10th behind Jameka in the Caulfield Cup – Spriggs’ first major – on Saturday and a decision on the horse’s future will be made after he returns to Waratah Thoroughbreds’ headquarters in Moss Vale.
“He is going back to the farm and will enjoy a week in the paddock,” Spriggs said.
“I will fly back up there Wednesday and ride him. If he is showing that competitive edge again and he wants to keep going, then we will press on to the cup.
“If he is showing signs that he has had enough, then he will retire.”
Severely squeezed at the first turn, Spriggs got Sir John Hawkwood to settle down the back and followed Jameka in to the straight.
But when Nick Hall pushed the go button on the favourite, Sir John Hawkwood was left behind.
“He had his chance,” Spriggs said.
“I did get that squeeze up the straight the first time, but once he got around the top of the track, he settled and he had a beautiful run from there. Jameka peeled out from the 700m and coasted into the race. I was able to get on her back and grab hold of her tail. But from the 500m my bloke came off the bridle, which is unlike him. Once we turned into the straight, he was running well but he was a beaten horse.”
Spriggs said he was lucky that Sir John Hawkwood didn’t fall when crossed by Sir Isaac Newton and had a heated exchange post race with Irish jockey Colm O’Donoghue.
O’Donoghue appeared before the stewards who ruled that the jockey wasn’t at fault, and that his horse was over racing and uncontrollable.
“I know he didn’t get the blame for it but he showed total disregard for me and my horse,” Spriggs said. “For other jockeys to come up to me and share their concerns. I was half a length to his inside. I’m entitled to be there. I gave him a yell to let him know I was there and he didn’t look once. I was so fired up, not because he cost me anything in the race. My horse could have fallen and have to be put down and I could have been in a hospital bed.”
Although still furious on Sunday, Spriggs said the exchange with O’Donoghue and attention it received had not detracted from his maiden Caulfield Cup experience.
“I am just looking forward to doing it again,” he said of Caulfield Cup ride. “Now that i have done it I want to do it every year. It is something that will stick with me forever.”