By Ray Hickson
Robbie Dolan believes finding a niche in the senior riding ranks will be the key to making a successful transition from a champion apprentice and he’s pinpointed his ability to ride light as being a major asset.
The 24-year-old will ride as a senior jockey for the first time at Canterbury on Wednesday and is under no allusions about how tough it can be to stay in demand with a spring carnival on his doorstep.
But he’s found a perfect role model in the shape of champion hoop Glen Boss whose ability to ride light has won him plenty of major handicaps over the years – Boss’s seven Doncaster Mile winners, all at 53kg or under and as light as 49kg, are testament to that.
“The transition is always hard for any jockey and for me it’s going to be hard in the sense that the coronavirus is around and all the jockeys are going to be staying put,’’ Dolan said.
“I do have weight on my side, coming into the spring I’m very light and I can ride bottom weight without wasting. If I work hard enough I’m sure the rides will still come.
“I’d love to be in the same boat as Glen Boss has been for the last 20 years, to be known as a strong light weight rider at this time of the year.
“He’s just class isn’t he. He’s been doing it year in, year out. I have a long way to go and while I’ve been here a couple of years I’m still a young lad and learning what it’s all about.”
Dolan, winner of the past two Sydney apprentice titles, is hoping promising filly Elizabeel can give him the perfect start as a senior rider when she returns in the Bowermans Commercial Furniture Handicap (1200m).
Trained by John Sargent, the three-year-old has been placed in two of her three starts and last raced when finishing third behind boom colt Peltzer at Randwick back in May and Dolan has been impressed with her development since her spell.
“I had a high opinion of her last preparation and although she didn’t win a race she ran some very good races,’’ he said.
“The only query for her is a heavy track so hopefully it can dry out a bit because you’ll see the best of her on top of the ground.
“She’s a lot stronger now than she was last preparation so maybe she’ll get through the track better. Looking at the field she’s the classiest horse in the race so maybe class will get her through it.”
Elizabeel, $3.30 with TAB, ran fourth in her only recent trial and Dolan didn’t ask her for a major effort as she was beaten three quarters of a length by Damaged in the 900m heat.
“I didn’t do too much on her, she’s done plenty of work at home, I let her slide a little bit but the horse I was following, Damaged, rolled me off the track a bit so I was starting to angle to outside of that horse,’’ he said.
“She lost her concentration a little bit but I was very happy with her trial and that was on a heavy track.”
Elizabeel runs fourth in a Rosehill trial on August 4
Newcastle trainer Paul Perry provides Dolan with his other three rides at Canterbury – Nothing Too Hard, Ragged Rascal and Call Me Mo – and of those he expects Ragged Rascal to be very competitive in the Joe Sharabati Handicap (1100m).
The five-year-old, $10 with TAB, was a Listed winner two years ago and hasn’t won since that victory in the Heritage Stakes but Dolan has been encouraged by his recent form including a last start fourth at Canterbury two weeks ago.
“He’s going well, he could have been a good horse when he was a youngster but he went in the wind,’’ he said.
“He’s starting to come back into form again and I really liked his run the other day. He got back and came into the race strongly, and let down like the winner, but he just peaked the last 50m.”