Hitting 53 kilograms on race day is no easy task for Taranaki jockey Dylan Turner, but he has committed to riding that weight at New Plymouth today and intends making his sacrifice worth the effort.
Turner, who bagged a treble of wins at Woodville last Saturday, has been engaged to ride the Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards-trained Our Abbadean in this weekend's Taranaki Cup (1800m) on the 53kg minimum.
"I was asked to do it 10 days ago. I was riding 54kg last week so I've just stayed light to make the weight," Turner said.
"It's very hard for me - 54 is a comfortable weight for me and while I have done 53 once before, it wasn't easy then either.
"It's just about staying healthy and putting into my body as little as possible and only what will help me get to where I need to be to make the weight. It's a hard balance to find, but I've just got to try and stay busy."
It's clear Turner believes the sacrifices he has made this week will have a fitting payoff in today's feature.
"It's not every day you get to ride for Te Akau in a black-type race and that's why I'm doing it," he said.
"I've had four or five rides for them before and ridden three winners so hopefully I can keep that strike rate up. From what I've watched of this mare, she's always attacking the line.
"There's not a lot of speed in the Cup so hopefully we can find a nice position and she can finish like she usually does. The extra trip will suit her too."
Turner has secured rides in all three New Plymouth features, booked for the John Wheeler-trained Irish Flame in the Gr.3 Phoenix Park 2YO Classic (1200m) and the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Eva Godiva in the Listed Bob Sharrock Memorial Oaks Prelude (1800m).
"They both look like good chances. Eva Godiva dug deep to win two starts back," Turner said.
Turner, who has seven rides in all at New Plymouth, was rapt with his Woodville treble and paid credit to his new agent Andre Neill for facilitating the success.
"Andre has made a huge difference. He's good with the trainers, he's professional and he's helping me enormously," Turner said.
"It was a super day at Woodville. I've only ridden three winners once before - I did it one day when I was an apprentice at Hawera."
Trainer Shaune Ritchie believes four-year-old mare Let Her Rip is the best chance of his nine weekend runners.
The talented daughter of Rip Van Winkle will step out in the Harold Tuson Memorial 1400 at New Plymouth today and will have the services of champion jockey Lisa Allpress.
A three-time winner, Let Her Rip endured a chequered-passage at Pukekohe last start and caught the eye with a closing third.
"She should be hard to beat and she doesn't mind give in the ground," Ritchie said.
"I thought she was unlucky last start and the step up to 1400 metres should suit. She has got to be a very strong winning chance."
Ritchie's Vodafone New Zealand Derby-bound pair of Redeem The Dream and Excalibur will line up at Ellerslie in the Avondale Guineas and Auckland Eye 2100 respectively. Both colts have drawn poorly in barrier 15 in their respective races.
Talented four-year-old mare Serious Satire looks a winning chance for trainer Stephen Marsh at Ellerslie today.
The Cambridge conditioner believes give in the ground will be a positive for the mare as she drops back from a group one event to the Benchmark 75 Macular Degeneration NZ 1600.
"I really liked her run in the Thorndon Mile for fifth and she has trained on well since," Marsh said. "She's drawn out a bit and does have to carry a fair bit of weight [58.5 kilos], but I think she will be right in the finish."
- NZ Racing Desk