By Brad Gray
It was a day of firsts at Warwick Farm. It was going to take something special to upstage the earlier feat of James Cummings with his first runner for Godolphin winning but apprentice jockey Mikayla Weir did exactly that, riding a winner at her very first ride in Sydney.
The 23-year-old apprentice steered Nic’s Vendetta to victory in the TAB Highway Handicap, prevailing in a tight finish from odds-on favourite Suncraze.
“I wasn’t nervous at all because I know the horse like the back of my hand. I know him so well so it was like clockwork. I ride him every day and I’ve ridden him for three preps now,” Weir said.
“I haven’t even ridden a provincial winner. I just haven’t been given the opportunities.”
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) July 8, 2017
The victory also marked another milestone for Weir, who has been a jockey for two years, with it bringing up 50 wins.
“I've ridden horses my whole life having competed in barrel races and rodeo for ten years. I started riding work for Kerry Parker because I’m from Wollongong and I decided I wanted to be a jockey so I packed my bag and moved to Singleton. I’ve been with Todd for two years in February.”
Weir has now ridden Nic’s Vendetta on three occasions for two wins and a second and justified the faith that her master Todd Howlett had in her.
“It’s very good for Mikayla. She is a really good girl and I’m very happy for her,” Howlett said after claiming his second Highway Handicap.
“There is a class three in a couple of weeks and we’ll come back down for that.
“He’ll just have an easy week and then get back into it. He goes out into the paddock of a morning and will have a couple of days out in the paddock, enjoying the good life. He is a great horse and is really honest.”
Nic's Vendetta holding off Suncraze
Meanwhile, punters were again left lamenting short-priced favourite Suncraze who ran second for the sixth consecutive time.
“He needs blinkers. He is just not focused at all. He was everywhere the first half of the race,” Corey Brown said.