By Ray Hickson
Apprentice Jean Van Overmeire has now had enough experience on Volpe to feel confident he can navigate the Goulburn galloper to a second Highway win at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
Volpe is one of two runners for trainer Danny Williams in the 100th TAB Highway (1600m) taking his tally of starters in the weekly country event to 93.
Van Overmeire guided Volpe to a second-up win at Rosehill over 1200m on December 2 then a week later the gelding charged home from well back to run fifth over 1400m. He's had one start at a mile for a four-length Goulburn win.
“We're up to the distance that suits him best,’’ he said.
“We have a bit of time to make a decision what to do and where to settle in the run.
“The first time I rode him I thought he was a bit quirky. Everyone was telling me he is quite a fierce horse at home at trackwork.
“I'd like to think I've worked him out now. It took me a while but the second start he gave me a beautiful ride and didn't pull at all.’’
Volpe runs fifth in a Highway at Rosehill on December 9
For the third Highway start in a row Volpe has drawn a double figure alley and that’s something Van Overmeire said is tough to overcome.
Of course he overcame it to win two starts back but wasn’t able to last start – even with Punters Intel data showing he ran clearly the best last 600m (33.62, only runner under 34) and an 11.20 last 200m.
“This is the third time he's run in a Highway with me on from a bad barrier so hopefully from the 1600m it won't matter that much,’’ he said.
“He has a very nice turn of foot at the end so we'll use that to his advantage.’’
Volpe is the early $4.60 favourite for the TAB Highway just ahead of Roseito, Mate Story and 13-time Highway winner Matthew Dunn’s runner Isla Tristana.
Of his other mounts at Warwick Farm, Van Overmeire is expecting Man Of Choice to be in the finish in the #Theraces Handicap (1400m).
The five-year-old will be having his second run since a 13 month break having resumed with a close fifth behind Drachenfels over 1200m two weeks ago.
“We had a beautiful run up to the last 300m and from then on he was stop-start,’’ he said.
“If we didn't have the loss of momentum I thought he would have finished a lot closer. I thought it was quite a good run.
“He let down quite nicely and I didn't think we had a heap of luck in the run.’’
The apprentice said he’ll discuss with trainers Robert and Luke Price about possibly riding Man Of Choice a little quieter this time around.
He also rides Grande Punto (race 6), Coolring (race 7) and Savoureux (race 9).