By Ray Hickson
Jean Van Overmeire is refusing to concede defeat in the race to be Sydney’s Champion Apprentice.
Armed with a solid book of eight rides at Rosehill on Saturday, including five well in the market, Van Overmeire realises he needs to convert at least a couple to make inroads into Rachel King’s six win lead (35-29) with nine meetings remaining in the season.
It’s not the first time such an opportunity has presented to cut into King’s lead lately but the 23-year-old has learned from recent experience.
“I’m going in with no expectations because the last few weeks I’ve had really good books and gone in with high expectations and it’s turned bad,’’ he said.
“It never crossed my mind about winning the metro premiership until a few months ago when people started asking about it.
“I think I still have plenty of time. I reckon I’m still in the game.’’
There’s a touch of irony in what appear to be Van Overmeire’s two best rides at Rosehill.
Brook Magic outguns She Knows first-up at Randwick on June 9
He opens the day partnering the in-form Dio D’Oro ($3.10 TAB), who King has piloted to two wins in June, in the Half Yearly Membership Handicap (1400m) and goes head-to-head with King who rides the unbeaten Alassio ($3.30) against his mount Brook Magic ($2.90) in the Book Spring Now Sprint (1100m).
The result of those two races will go a long way to making or breaking his title chase.
Van Overmeire, this season’s Rising Star Series champ, said he’s well aware he’s in for a tactical battle on Brook Magic, who downed last week’s easy winner She Knows first-up.
“We’re drawn to get the run of the race just like last time and I reckon she will be very hard to beat,’’ he said.
“She Knows headed me and Brook Magic really fought back to get her head in front so she’s a really tough horse.
“We’ll see how it pans out but I’m pretty sure I’m just going to jump and dictate. That’s how we race and I’m going to give her a similar ride to last time.’’
Dio D’Oro chases his third win in June when he steps up to 1400m on Saturday and after the 2kg claim will still concede 2kg or more to his five rivals.
Those rivals include impressive first-up winners Toulouse and Bubbles’n’troubles in what appears on paper to be a very tactical race.
“He’s stepping up in distance and we’ll probably be handy with the 2kg claim,’’ he said.
“I’m really glad I picked up the ride and I hope I can continue winning on him.
“I don’t think 1400m will be a worry, he loves the soft conditions and I think he’s a tough and big, strong horse.’’
In one of the day’s features, Van Overmeire is quietly confident he can improve on his record of two wins and a second from four rides on Doukhan in the Listed $150,000 Winter Cup (2400m).
The import was narrowly beaten in the 3200m Stayers Cup at Randwick last start where Punters Intel data showed he ran the fastest last 600m of the race in 37.55 but conceded too much start.
Despite the drop in distance the apprentice is somewhat bullish.
“I’m hopeful because while I know it’s a massive drop I really like him on the (soft) ground,’’ he said.
“If I can get the run I want to present him at the right time I think he will be right there.’’
Among his rides at better odds, Van Overmeire said first-up winner Feelin The Love ($14) shouldn’t be underestimated in the ATC Owner Benefits Card Handicap (1500m).
The Kris Lees-trained mare won at 1200m at Warwick Farm on June 13 and while up in class moves into her comfort zone.
“It was a massive win, for a horse that runs over a trip to come out and win like that, and tough it out at the end, was great,’’ he said.
“She really pins back the ears and tries to get in front. It’s exactly what you want in a horse. I definitely won’t go around favourite but you definitely won’t be writing us off either.’’