Newcastle jockey Blake Spriggs hopes to put another run on the board with three rides at Rosehill on Saturday after a frustrating return from injury.
Spriggs returned to race riding on May 2 after a three-month lay-off recovering from a knee injury sustained in a heavy fall from Minute Silence at Hawkesbury. He fractured his patella and damaged ligaments in the accident which took away career momentum built through his group 1-winning run to last year’s Melbourne Cup with Sir John Hawkwood.
Spriggs has had just two wins, both in the past two weeks, in 50 race rides back.
The latest victory was on Lady Marmaletta at Taree on Thursday and Spriggs was hoping to add to that at Rosehill on Eva Jean, Raido and Oscar’s Choice.
“I think I’ve had 50 rides since I’ve been back and about 20 of them have been top fours. It was getting a little bit frustrating,” said Sydney-based Spriggs, who counts cricket superstar and thoroughbred owner David Warner among his friends.
“I was talking to David Warner about it last night actually and I said the only comparison I can make was it was like getting out on 99.
“To get that win, even though it was only Taree, it was very satisfying.”
His other victory since returning was on James Cummings’ Roman Son at Kembla Grange on June 3.
He said Eva Jean, in race three for Brad Draper, Raido, for Kris Lees in race seven, and Oscar’s Choice, for Bob Holloway in the ninth, were each-way chances.
“Oscar’s Choice is a very honest horse,” he said. “He drew wide the other day [fifth at Randwick] and had no luck, but he stuck on well. Tomorrow he’s drawn one and he’ll get a nice soft run.”
Spriggs also hoped to regain some ground on girlfriend and in-form apprentice Rachel King, who has Raido as one of her 76 winners this season.
“Rachel has won on him so it’s a bit of a test in the house,” Spriggs said. “He ran in the Winter Dash at Tamworth and looked like he was a little outpaced for most of the race but then got home quite well [for fifth]. Dropping to 53 kilos and stepping up to 1100, I think he’s a good each-way chance.”
As for keeping up with King, he said: “She flying. She’s working really hard and it’s the time of the year for apprentices to kick a few goals and show they’ve got ability and she’s certainly doing that.
“She’s put the bread on the table while I’ve been off so I’ve had to come back and try to pick up pretty quickly. She’s got the bragging rights at the moment but I put her back in her place by mentioning the Melbourne Cup,” he laughed.
“But she’s going really well. She's up to 76 winners for the season and I think my best is 88, so she will probably overtake me, so it’s a good effort.”
At Gosford on Friday, Lees had his first winner for Gooree Stud since helping fill the void left by trainer Cummings’ switch to Godolphin.
Banner Season, a two-year-old colt, won a maiden over 1600m in his fourth race start.
Newcastle trainer Paul Perry was another winner, scoring with Quartermaster in the last at Gosford, a 2600m benchmark 65 handicap.
As for Eva Jean, Spriggs said: “The bloke in the Highway Handicap, he’s very consistent as well.”
“He looks like he has some quirks at the barrier. He can step away slow but if he jumps well, he’ll give himself a chance with no weight on his back. He’s an each-way chance as well and I don’t think you can underestimate these lightweight chances on heavy tracks.”