By Ray Hickson
Jockey Nick Heywood would love to confirm himself as understudy on Country Championships favourite Don’t Give A Damn by guiding him into the Final at Goulburn on Saturday.
The 22-year-old is warming the saddle for Kerrin McEvoy by riding the $1.60 favourite in the $150,000 SERA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) but still recognises he has a job to do.
“He’s got to run one-two to get into the Final but going off what he’s done and the hype around him you’d think he’ll be winning,’’ Heywood said.
“Obviously Kerrin has the ride (for the Final) but I’d be more than happy to put my hand up to jump back on him.’’
Heywood said McEvoy will be hearing from him prior to Saturday’s Qualifier to seek out any advice on the Danny Williams-trained four-year-old’s quirks or preferences.
He goes to Goulburn every second Tuesday to ride work and jump outs so he’s had one sit on Don’t Give A Damn, at trackwork this week, and while he seems uncomplicated Heywood won’t be taking any chances.
“I’ll be having a chat to Kerrin, flick him a message, to see what his opinion is,’’ he said.
“Anything can happen in this game so I will just take it as it comes. I’m quite happy just to be on one of Danny’s in that type of race.’’
A minor spanner was thrown in the works when Don’t Give A Damn drew barrier 16, which will likely become 12 after scratchings, but Heywood sees the draw as a plus.
Last time the gelding drew ‘poorly’ was in the Anniversary Highway Consolation on Everest Day and he worked across to lead by midrace before clearing out to beat Schedule (who contests the Mudgee Qualifier on Sunday) by 2-1/4 length.
When he won first-up at Rosehill on February 3, Don’t Give A Damn did most of his work early on running his first 300m in 19.37 (Punters Intel) and was also quickest in the next 200m running 11.45.
“He’s a nice progressive horse and he gives you that feel he has a motor,’’ Heywood said.
“Drawing wide is a good thing for him, there’s a good 400m to the first corner so he can just cruise along and if he can get to the front and roll along it will take a good one to beat him.’’
Don’t Give A Damn headlines a strong book of rides for Heywood at Goulburn. Here’s some comments on a few of those mounts:
Fun Tickets (race 3, $3.10): “He’s getting better and better that bloke. The longer the trip the better for him. He needs a bit of luck, even if you push him he wouldn’t get any closer so you have to ride him in his comfort zone.’’
El Mo (race 5, $3.00): “It looks like a suitable race for him. He’ll be there on pace somewhere, he has the home track advantage and should race accordingly. He definitely has something there, once the penny drops he’ll be a nice horse.’’
Red Captain (race 8, $9.50): “He’s definitely an each-way chance. I thought he felt the pinch a bit late over the mile last time, he might have been better suited at 1400m but there obviously wasn’t a race. He’s just one paced so he will keep kicking all day.’’
The $500,000 Country Championships Final (1400m) is run at Royal Randwick on April 7.