Jockey Jordan Mallyon is hoping to make a lucrative return to Ascot when he combines with Spirit Bird in the $100,000 Listed Challenge Stakes (1500m) on Saturday.
Mallyon, a grandson of triple Caulfield Cup-winning jockey, Mick Mallyon and cousin of current riders Andrew and Katelyn Mallyon, is no stranger to local racing.
The Victorian-based Mallyon spent two years in Western Australian and rode 52 winners including 36 at city level before completing his apprenticeship in 2014.
Mallyon gleefully accepted the Spirit Bird mount after the talented Nick Cox-trained Savabeel filly was allocated 53kg for the Challenge Stakes.
Spirit Bird has one win from 10 starts but has been placed on six occasions including a brave second to Man Booker in the WA Guineas (1600m).
She gave another spirited display on her return last fortnight when she attempted to lead from barrier-to-post with top weight of 58kg.
But with a 4kg pull in the weights she wasn’t able to stave of Black Dynamite who gathered her in and scored by the narrowest of margins, a nose.
Mallyon, who replaces Paul Harvey, says he will be forced to adopt a change of riding tactics after Spirit Bird drew the second widest gate.
“Leading isn’t the way to go with her and she is better off chasing,” Mallyon said.
“I think she will be better for the run.
“The only negative is the wide barrier.
“I might have to ride her a bit more quiet.
“But I am on a pretty classy horse and she is probably there to show that on Saturday.
“I think she is an extremely good chance in a nice race.”
Arcadia Dream, one of four starters for prominent owner-breeder, Bob Peters and trainer, Grant Williams, holds TAB favouritism at $3.50.
The Domesday filly, who has drawn barrier nine for William Pike, has not raced since taking out the Aquanita Stakes (1800m) in December.
She ran second to Bache in 1000m Belmont trial on February 8.
The Williams-Peters- Pike combination are chasing their second consecutive win in the Challenge Stakes after Neverland was successful last year.
Fred Kersley says Blackwood, on the second line of betting at $5.50, has been on light duties after she was beaten a long-neck by The Blue Nipper when resuming on January 30.
The daughter of Blackfriars was given just a short let-up after running a series of sound efforts at the Ascot summer carnival last year.
She claimed her major scalp in the Listed Burgess Queen Stakes (1400m) and placed twice behind glamour filly, Perfect Reflection.
Kersley says Blackwood, to jump from barrier five for Steven Parnham, was on target for a tilt at the WA Oaks.
“She has been in training for a long time and has had some tough runs against some of the better three-year-olds,” Kersley said on TABradio.
“I think she has lost her top end speed and turning more into a filly who is looking for ground.
“The 1500m is about as short as she wants it.
“She will be better suited when she goes out a bit further.”
Who Dat Singa ($6.50), Spirit Bird ($7.50), The Cobbla ($8.50 and Black Dynamite ($9.50) are the remaining runners under single figures with the TAB.
RWWA: Julio Santarelli