Jockey Peta Edwards came away from Ascot on Saturday triumphant after combining with King Blitz in the Diggers Cup (1800m), but if she had followed her instinct that exalted feeling of victory would certainly not have arrived.
By her own reckoning Edwards does not consider herself to be in the top realms of Perth jockeys, she struggles for city opportunities and at this time of the year she is usually readying herself for the Broome racing season.
That harsh personal assessment helps explain why Edwards was racked with nerves and self-doubt ahead of the Diggers Cup. Her anxiety levels had reached such proportion that she considered relinquishing her ride on the six-year-old.
Fortunately for Edwards she had a key supporter who maintained the faith. While she was suffering a major dose of pre-race jitters, trainer and partner Barry Newnham stood firm and backed her in.
“I actually wrote Barry a message on my phone to take me off and put one of the boys on,” Edwards told The Races WA.
“I was about to send it when Barry rang.
“Barry is one of my biggest supporters and I didn’t want to disappoint him.
“I was so nervous and I thought it would be just easier putting one of the city jockeys on.
“I had to text Barry because if I spoke to him personally I knew what his reaction would have been.
“He would just tell me to ‘toughen up.’
“But after that race I just realised how much love and confidence he has in me.
“I’m alright riding in places like Albany and Geraldton, but for him to put me on his number one horse is overwhelming.
“I can’t thank him enough and full credit to the horse. He is something else and going from strength to strength.”
While justifiably basking in the glow of one of her best ever wins, Edwards was just as adamant that Newnham should share the limelight at the very least.
Edwards insists his role in nurturing the injury-plagued gelding back to peak fitness after an extensive layoff should not go unrecognised.
Persistent feet issues have restricted King Blitz to just 12 starts, but the returns have been lucrative with six wins and three placings.
Since resuming from an 18-month injury enforced absence in February, the underrated son of Natural Blitz has missed a pay day just the once.
“With the injury that he has had I don’t think he could have reached the levels with any other trainer,” Edwards said.
“He puts so much time into the horse; he walks him, massages him, he shoes him, he won’t let any farrier touch his feet.
“Barry bred him and you might not see it at the races, but they have a connection.”
If King Blitz is the stable flag-bearer for Newnham and Edwards then Lording is a pretty good understudy.
After winning at Bunbury in March, the talented three-year-old has run two seconds behind River Beau including Saturday when beaten a neck.
“He is going to be a decent horse,” Edwards said.
“Because Barry has put so much time into King Blitz, this horse has nearly gone by the wayside a bit.