By Ray Hickson
Jockey Andrew Adkins has received a timely confidence boost, ahead of a tough Country Championships assignment on promising mare Shelley Beach Road this weekend, with an invitation to ride in a Group 1 race in Macau next month.
Adkins has been headhunted by trainer James Moore to ride Kelowna Star in the Group 1 Macau Hong Kong Trophy on March 4.
It’s a big opportunity for the 20-year-old reigning champion Sydney apprentice who is less than two weeks into his career as a senior jockey.
“I’ve never ridden outside Australia so I’m pretty excited,’’ Adkins said.
“After I rode the winner (My Song) for Gary Moore last week James rang up looking for a rider for Macau and Gary suggested he give me a try.’’
Kelowna Star is a Group 1 winner in Macau, having claimed the 2016 Macau Guineas and back in November won the Group 2 Autumn Trophy for the second year running.
Adkins heads to Port Macquarie on Sunday to partner Shelley Beach Road for a bunch of owners including his father in the $150,000 MNCRA Country Championships Qualifier (1200m).
Despite drawing one from the outside, Adkins is very upbeat about the lightly raced mare’s chances.
He rode Shelley Beach Road to a third placing off a wide barrier in a Highway at Rosehill in December and after a freshen up she was guided home by Andrew Gibbons in winning at Port Macquarie under 60kg on February 2.
“There’s some pretty classy horses in the field but I think she is on the improve and you’ll see that in the next couple of months,’’ he said.
“I think she has what it takes and if she gets the right run I have the confidence that she can do it.’’
Adkins won the Mid North Coast Qualifier last year at Taree on Cogliere for his old master Marc Quinn and that horse will be among his rivals in 2018.
Shelley Beach Road wins under a big weight at Port Macquarie on February 2
The John Sprague-trained Shelley Beach Road is rated a $16 chance by TAB behind hot favourite Victorem ($2.15) in Sunday’s race.
In looking at the four-year-old’s task from the barrier Adkins said it probably not such a bad thing for a horse like her.
“You have a good run down the back and horse can miss it sometimes so it gives me the chance to assess my options before I go looking for a position,’’ he said.
“Even if she is outside the leader it doesn’t matter, she’ll be on the speed somewhere. If we get a decent enough run from the barrier it can work out all right for us.’’
First and second from the Port Macquarie Qualifier progress to the $500,000 Country Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 7.