Emerging jockey Joe Azzopardi brought up a milestone when he outrode his claim in the Corporate Membership Handicap (1000m) at Belmont.
The 21-year-old, who steered Military Rock to a narrow win, says he is looking forward to the challenge of joining the senior riding ranks.
“It’s great after 4 ½ years and I’m glad to have done it,” said Azzopardi.
“I’ve had a great season and happy with the way things are going.
“I understand now it’s going to get tricky without my claim.
”But I will continue to work as hard as I can and hopefully the winners keep coming.”
Azzopardi commenced his apprenticeship in 2011 and rode his first winner on the Michelle Vallentine-trained One Eighty Degrees at Roebourne.
In 2014-15 he rode 46 winners, finishing second to Lucy Warwick in the Champion Apprentice Award and third to William Pike in the Leading Rider title.
Azzopardi, who is indentured to leading trainer, Adam Durrant, said spending a short stint with Troy Corstens in Melbourne, gave him a big boost.
“The best thing I have done for my career was going to Melbourne for a few months,” said Azzopardi.
“I learnt so much working with the better riders who wanted to help and I took so much from the experience.
“I have to give a lot of the credit to Peter Knuckey who talked me into it and helped me out with Troy.”
Meanwhile the drought is over for perennial placegetter Street Bandit who broke through for a deserving win in the Club Membership Handicap (1650m).
After 21 placings from his previous 38 starts, the Neville Parnham-trained gelding ran on from seventh and three wide at the turn to defeat Ocean Cracker by a long neck.
“Really excited to get the first win after he was afforded no favours out in the cheap seats,” said Parnham.
“Ten out of ten for the owners in persevering with him.”
RWWA: Julio Santarelli