By Ray Hickson
We all allow for a horse to improve with a run and jockey Rachel King says the same will apply to her when she partners Special Missile in the Listed $150,000 Winter Challenge (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
And to her second ride on Drachenfels in the ATC Thanks Owners Handicap (1200m).
King had her first ride on both horses two weeks ago and believes that experience will do her a world of good on a pair that can’t afford small things to wrong in their races.
It’s been 11 months since Special Missile’s last win but King saw enough in his third to stablemate Dreamforce in the Winter Stakes to believe she can coax a victory out of him.
And if so it would be a special victory, her fifth at stakes level this season, topping off a superb season for the talented English expat.
“I think Dreamforce is a good horse and he’s probably that little bit above Special Missile but now I’ve had a ride on him I know how tough he is,’’ she said.
“It’s good to watch as many replays as possible but you always benefit from having a ride.
“He’s a horse that likes a bit of consistency and we’re both going to know each other a bit better.’’
Special Missile runs third in the Winter Stakes at Rosehill on July 14
With a 3.5 win lead over Jean Van Overmeire, King appears to have the champion apprentice title sewn up and will become the third woman after Kathy O’Hara and Winona Costin to claim the crown.
She doesn’t believe she did anything particularly wrong on Special Missile last start but recognises that he’s a horse that does need a few things to go his way.
The gelding opened equal favourite with TAB in the Winter Challenge before drifting to $7 on Thursday.
“When the stablemate crossed last start it made him run for a couple of strides until I could get him to come back but apart from that he had a comfortable time in front,’’ she said.
“But he ran a super race, he’s drawn well again and he should get all the favours.’’
Godolphin gelding Drachenfels is definitely a horse that needs the ‘one per centers’ to go right in his races and King said he had genuine excuses for his first-up fifth behind Albumin on July 14.
While he’s a $10 chance on Saturday, King said the fresh effort was full of merit and she will be awake to some of his quirks this time around.
“He just stepped backwards and bobbed his head in the air,’’ she said.
“He wasn’t necessarily a problem in the gates but a bit sensitive and now I know him I’ll be more aware.
“He did miss the kick but he ended up getting a good run through. On the turn I was going a bit too well and ended up coming out and around runners where the winner came up on the inside.’’
Punters Intel data shows Drachenfels did a bit of work early in the 1200m event, running 10.96 between the 1000m and the 800m and finished off in an even 34.39 for the last 600m.
“He’ll be that little bit fitter and race ready, I think he’ll be competitive,’’ King said.
Saturday will be King’s final city meeting as an apprentice and she’ll join the senior ranks from August 1.
What’s been remarkable is that King, who turns 28 on Tuesday, has ridden without a claim for half the season.
“I’ve been very lucky with trainers and owners supporting me,’’ she said.
“It’s been a lot of hard work as well, I’ve worked hard for the opportunity and been repaid.’’
Among her season highlights is posting her first Group win on Lanciato, who she’ll partner in the star studded Group 2 Missile Stakes at Randwick on Satuday week, in the Newcastle Newmarket in