By Tony Megahey
For former jockey Daniel Nickson his first year in the training ranks remains a devoted family concern and their excitement levels are maximum for his initial metropolitan runner in Jar of Hearts for Saturday’s $60,000 TAB Highway Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Daniel, a racing traditionalist, and his wife Michelle share the track work duties at pristine Moruya with a small team, and their three young daughters are stable helpers and NSW rep Pony Club riders.
Daniel’s father Colin was handicapper for the former AJC, and his uncle Gary a successful trainer.
“A lifetime of racing in our family,” Daniel said. “I met Michelle when she was riding for the Conners stable; and our three daughters all learned to ride in the Moruya pony club. They absolutely love the horses, and Michelle is the club secretary.
“We were in Singapore for a while and settled back here on the south coast. It’s paradise down here for family and horses. Horses thrive in the environment. We’ve got four in work, and then there are the kid’s ponies, so we all pitch in for the work load.
“We used to be based at the race track, but we’ve got a lovely property and stables just 15 minutes away.
“Anyway Saturday is exciting for me and all the girls. I’d love to have drawn a barrier, but this mare is racing well, the Nowra placing is a decent form line and last prep she was placed in a leg of the Country Championships to some smart ones. Winona Costin has come back riding confidently.”
Jar of Hearts is weighted on 55kgs and has drawn barrier 11.
Last season Jar of Hearts ran third to talented Distinctive Look and Galaxy Warrior in the Wellington leg of the Championships.
“We’ll work out a race plan when I go through the speed map but we’ve sure got to avoid getting posted out there. But she did race on speed at Nowra and blinkers have made a difference.”
Jar of Hearts is owned by Sky Racing host Ric Chapman, a long time sporting journalist.
“Ric sent a couple down to me with really good ability,” Daniel said. “I’ve only had this mare for two runs but Ric and I agreed they were both good enough to have a crack at a Highway and the decent prize-money.
“If she’d won another race in the country, she wouldn’t be eligible and I mean all country trainers are hoping to get one good enough to qualify for the next Highway Anniversary and that big prizemoney.”
The Mack Griffith trained Schedule will be favourite on the strength of a Royal Randwick Highway second to Danny William’s hot prospect Don’t Give a Damn. Paul Messara’s Roseito is also prominent in early markets.