By Ray Hickson
Jockey Lee Magorrian has had to work overtime this week to ensure he makes the 54kg required to partner talented mare Strawb in Friday’s Group 3 $200,000 Coolmore Dark Jewel Classic (1400m) at Scone.
It’s a weight range Magorrian doesn’t often attempt but since he first rode Strawb for Newcastle trainer Nathan Doyle in a trial in December last year he’s been convinced she has what’s needed to win a good race.
“I’m restricted to riding 56kg normally but I’ve battled this week to get down to the 54kg for her,’’ he said.
“It’s been a bit of a task but hopefully it’s worth it. She’s up in grade but I think she’s up to it.
“The first time I trialled her last prep I said to Nathan she’s a Group class mare. I’ve been on a lot of good horses being apprenticed to Chris Waller and I'm still riding there for him.
“She’s definitely given the feel that she’s a good mare.”
On the back of a first-up Warwick Farm win, trainer Nathan Doyle brings her back to where it all began just over a year ago - an impressive win at Scone at her first start for the young trainer.
Since then she’s raced with a fair amount of expectation on her back but that city breakthrough, even though it was at midweek level, could be the turning point.
Strawb wins at Warwick Farm on April 28
Magorrian rode Strawb twice last preparation and the best result was a second splitting Brutality and Blondeau at Warwick Farm and there was no sign of her barrier blues first-up in a race that has already produced a city winner with third placed Turnstyle winning during the week.
“She’s bounced back to winning form and Nathan’s been quite happy with her,’’ he said.
“Ash Morgan galloped her during the week and he said she worked quite well for him so it’s all positive.
“The big issue for her was in the gates, she gets claustrophobic in there and she doesn’t like standing in there. You’ve just got to sit quiet on her and talk to her.
“If she jumps well she can sit midfield and if she gets a nice economical run through the race she will be strong late.
“It’s a good field but there’s no reason why she can’t be as good as them.”
Strawb was a $21 chance with TAB on Thursday, Magorrian also rides Members Only ($12) for Doyle in the Yarraman Park Handicap (1300m) and he’s hoping to get conditions to suit the gelding at Scone.
He was an impressive winner at Newcastle at his second race start but failed to finish on a wet track at Gosford on April 1 after being eased down in the latter stages.
“He does have ability but he didn’t like the track last start,’’ Magorrian said.
“It’s only a soft 5 at Scone so hopefully we don’t get any rain and he can put his best foot forward and get back into winning form.
“The owners and Nathan have been good to me so I’m hoping for a good day for them.”