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Schiller Puts Himself To The Test For Legendary Doncaster Ride

By Ray Hickson

Little did Tyler Schiller know when he rode Celestial Legend in a barrier trial on January 22 that he’d be prepared to go to extreme lengths to partner the colt in a Doncaster Mile.

Jockey Tyler Schiller (Pic: Bradley Photos).

The ride, at the time, wasn’t his and he felt he was just warming the seat for someone else.

Flash forward some 10 weeks.

Celestial Legend is a Group 1 Randwick Guineas winner and on the back of that victory trainer Les Bridge set his sights on the Group 1 $4 million The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday and, as regular rider Kerrin McEvoy couldn’t make 49kg he handed Schiller the opportunity.

So since then the 25-year-old has been working hard to ride at the lightest weight he can remember for the chance to snare the time honoured feature of Day 1 of The Star Championships.

Now he's preparing for arguably the biggest ride of his short career so far.

“I haven’t ridden 49kg since probably my first couple of rides in my apprenticeship so to get down to that weight wasn’t something I was expecting I could do,’’ Schiller said.

“I had a think about it, and looked at the market, and thought he’s Group 1 winner who hasn’t been penalised for winning the Guineas and he’s a pretty live chance in it.”

Schiller says losing the last kilogram “is going to hurt”.

With a couple of weeks lead time he’s gradually reduced his weight to be around 52kg on Tuesday through running, swimming and other fitness activities with Corey Brown keeping a close eye on him.

He’s prepared for not only the physical toll but the mental one, knowing he’ll need to be as sharp as possible to guide the star three-year-old, the $6 second favourite with TAB after the barrier draw, in a Doncaster.

“I’ll probably have to lose 2kg on Thursday/Friday but I’m not worried about it because it’ll be water weight and as long as I’m fit enough it’ll come off,’’ he said.

“It’ll definitely be mentally tough, I’ll probably be a bit fatigued and that’s why I’ve taken so little rides going into it.

“I think if I can feel as good as I did riding 50kg I should be fine.”

With that base of what Celestial Legend felt like in January, Schiller describes the colt as a “powerhouse” and has been impressed with the change in the animal he’s sat on in the past week.

Gallops last Saturday and on Tuesday morning have told him what Les Bridge already knows and has been saying since he won the Hobartville Stakes second-up.

Schiller, who posted his second career Group 1 on Lady Laguna in last month's Canterbury Stakes, rates his confidence levels at around 9 out of 10 and from barrier six he said there's every reason to be confident.

“Les said ‘I don’t want to know how good he is’, he knows he’s a good horse, he just wanted to know how he felt and he felt terrific,’’ Schiller said.

"He’s a free moving horse, he’s got a big stride, he’s pretty strong in his work but he loves to follow a bum.

Celestial Legend wins the Randwick Guineas

“He seems versatile, he’s a horse better ridden with cover but track conditions wise he’s handled everything so it’ll be interesting to see how effective he is with a very light weight.

“There’s no certainties in racing but I think he can put himself in a spot so I’m going in there pretty confident.

“He’s a quality colt and it’ll be exciting when the weekend comes.”

All the fields, form and replays for Day 1 of The Star Championships at Randwick

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