By Ray Hickson
Lack of local knowledge doesn’t concern Irish jockey Jamie Spencer ahead of partnering Brave Smash in the $10m TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The 37-year-old is no stranger to Australia, and has been to, but not ridden in, Sydney before, but will have his first look at the Randwick course proper shortly after he flies in from the UK on Friday morning then has five rides prior to The Everest.
Spencer said the fly-in, fly-out situation is hardly foreign to him but he’s also sought the insight of a couple of fellow UK riders with experience in Sydney.
“I’ve been watching a lot of replays from Sydney trying to get my mind fixed on the track,’’ Spencer said.
“I spoke to (Godolphin jockeys) James Doyle and William Buick about it this week. They say it is a pretty straightforward track but I always have an open mind.
“My first ever ride at Flemington was a winner and with the amount of travelling we do here you just take it as it comes.’’
That winner was Side Glance in the 2013 Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes.
— Australian Turf Club (@atc_races) October 11, 2017
Spencer was only announced as the rider for Brave Smash, racing in the ATC slot, last week when Australian Bloodstock reached out to see if was available.
He’s actually ridden for Australian Bloodstock once before, he was the regular rider of Red Cardinal prior to being purchased and rode the horse in his final start before being sent to Germany and trainer Andreas Wohler.
Red Cardinal is now in Melbourne preparing for the Cup.
“Jamie Lovett contacted me, I had to see if it was possible with my commitments to come and everything fell into place,’’ Spencer said.
“I’m looking forward to the trip, there are plenty of people over here talking about the race.’’
Spencer has spent plenty of time examining Brave Smash, who was beaten as an odds-on favourite at Caulfield in his final Everest lead up on September 23.
Trainer Darren Weir has added the blinkers to the five-year-old Japanese bred galloper’s gear and while he’s obviously never ridden the horse he feels the shades could help.
“Jamie sent me his videos, he looks like he a strong stayer at 1200m,’’ Spencer said.
“There looks like being a lot of speed in the race and with the blinkers on he should hopefully be a bit sharper and more alert.
“When horses finish second you’re always looking for that extra lead. Some horses really progress with them, it’s hard for me to say how he’s reacted to them but obviously they think that’s what he needs.
“I just hope he gets a smooth run through the race, get the horse as comfortable as possible and take it from there.’’
The inaugural Everest hasn’t attracted an internationally trained horse but Spencer and Brave Smash represent an overseas component.
The jockey, who in August rode his 2000th flat winner in Britain, said European sprinters will come.
“I’d say the way the race has shaped up, the good sprinters we have in Europe like Battaash and Harry Angel, I wouldn’t be surprised if they pitched up next year,’’ he said.