By Tony Megahey
The spectacularly successful TAB Highway innovation continues to afford bush battlers an opportunity on the big stage and it’s high excitement for series first timers, Riverina trainer George Dimitropoulos and apprentice Stacey Metcalfe at Rosehill Gardens this Saturday.
“It’s Stacy’s first ride in the city and if she happens to win expect tears,” Dimitropoulos joked.
“Zakynthos Regrets is really promising and will run us a race.”
The three-year-old gelding takes on a typically in depth $60,000 TAB Highway Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens after short course wins at Wagga Wagga and Leeton by wide margins in fast time.
“Stacey and I both understand this is far tougher but this horse ran a track record at Leeton, broke a minute unextended and his Wagga maiden win was just as soft so who knows,” Dimitropoulos said.
The 59-year-old makes a 200 kilometre regular return trip from Cootamundra to Wagga Wagga to work just two horses.
“The travel is hard work at my age but it’s what I’ve known and enjoyed for a long time and I know I’ve got a smart horse," he said.
“He deserves a chance in a city Highway. It’s a class two, he’s been winning easily and I’m confident at three, he’s got further improvement.
“Anyway it’s going to be a really exciting day for both of us.
“I’m taking a box of tissues into the enclosure for Stacey just in case.
“I’ve raced in town before way back and we don’t think we’re coming all this way just to make up the numbers.
“Stacey has ridden him in both wins and she said he’s hasn’t ever been fully wound up.”
Stacey is back riding winners for George after two months off the tracks with a broken collarbone.
Again Saturday’s Rosehill Gardens episode sees the formidable presence of seven-time Highway winner Matthew Dunn with Conniving. It will share favouritism with Greg Bennett’s Aristograts and Keith Dryden and Scott Collings’ And There Is More.