By Julieanne Horsman
Ask any trainer to describe Simon Miller and they will tell you he is one of the hardest working jockeys in the business.
The 32-year-old gets up in the dark every day to ride track work for five different trainers at Canberra’s Thoroughbred Park before heading off to the races.
“He’s got a great work ethic and you can always rely on him,” trainer Luke Pepper said. Pepper and Miller have an excellent strike rate together. From 35 starts they’ve notched 9 wins and 10 places this season and the standout unfolded at Wagga on Monday.
Miller produced one of the most skilled rides of his career aboard Erin’s Zar in the South Wagga Butchery Benchmark 65 Handicap (1200m).
At the turn for home he was in the back half of the field, one off the rail, but as he tried to make a move he was cut off.
Miller quickly changed tack, ducking and weaving his way into the clear where Erin’s Zar drove to the line to win by half a length.
“I think being held up was actually a blessing in disguise,” Miller said modestly. “The later he gets out the better he sprints and if he hits the front too early he eases off.”
But Pepper was adamant it was Miller who made the difference.
“The ride undoubtedly won him the race,” Pepper said.
“I don’t think even a top jockey could have pulled out a ride like that.
“Erin’s Zar is a bit of a quirky horse but Simon rides him at track work and has sussed him out.”
The win even caught the attention of leading Sydney jockey Tommy Berry who described the ride as a “10/10” on twitter.
“It’s always nice when people you respect give you a wrap,” Miller said.
Proving it wasn’t a fluke, Miller pulled off another stunning victory the very next day at Moruya aboard the Barbara Joseph and Paul Jones-trained Croix de Vie. “Croix de Vie is a horse we have been struggling to get the best from at the races,” Jones said.
“Simon had to keep him alert and focused from the enclosure, around to the barriers and in the race.”
Croix de Vie missed the start in the Prior Bus Service Class 2 Handicap (1300m) but rather than panic, Miller calmly travelled along at the tail of the field, conserving energy for a big finish.
As they entered the straight, Miller guided Croix de Vie into the clear where he charged home to pinch the win by half a length. It paid $9 with bookmakers on course.
“We were thrilled with the result,” Jones said.
“Simon’s hard work is paying off and he deserves every success.”
It hasn’t just been a good couple of days for Miller, it’s been a good month.
He’s won six races, including a double at Gundagai on 8th June.
“I’ve been given great support from the trainers I ride work for, they’ve all been very loyal to me,” Miller said.
“There’s a lot of good riders in our area so you have to put in the work to get the opportunities.”