By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mick Bell had no hesitation in calling up apprentice Georgina Cartwright to ride cult galloper Jungle Edge at Randwick on Saturday confident lightning can strike twice for the pairing.
Jungle Edge was the 25-year-old’s first city winner when he scored at Sandown in December and the gelding’s heavy track prowess will see him favourited to be Cartwright’s first Sydney winner too.
Cartwright said she’s excited about reuniting with Jungle Edge, who opened $3.00 TAB favourite, in the Elite Haulage Handicap (1200m).
“He’s a mudlark, he’s a people’s horse and he’s been such a good horse for Mick,’’ she said.
“It’d be good to get a city winner in Sydney, I’m appreciative to Mick Bell for standing behind me and giving me the ride.’’
Jungle Edge’s impressive win in the Listed June Stakes (1100m) earlier this month earned him 63.5kg for Saturday’s race and that’s where Cartwright’s 3kg claim comes in handy - he’ll carry the same weight in an open handicap as he did last start.
Half of the seven-year-old’s wins have come on heavy ground and his fondness for the wet was on show in the June Stakes with Punters Intel revealing he ran splits of 10.86 and 10.96 early in the race and still produced the second fastest last 600m of 35.34.
With the claim, Jungle Edge meets June Stakes runner-up Shiraz, who ran the fastest last 600m in 34.99, 2kg better for a 1-1/4 length win.
Cartwright has ridden in NSW previously, in the southern districts, but Saturday will be her first ride in Sydney and she says having experience racing clockwise and on Jungle Edge will come in handy.
“He’s quite straightforward and he’s been racing well. I thought his last start win was a very good one,’’ she said.
“He goes just as fast on a heavy as he does on a good. Probably faster. He’s one of the best wet trackers in Australia and that’s the main thing that sets him apart.’’
Bell said he fielded plenty of interest in the ride on Jungle Edge once he made it known an apprentice would be required to replace regular jockey Kevin Forrester for his next start under handicap conditions.
While he’s been keen to give Jack Martin, who rode Jungle Edge to a win at the 2016 Warrnambool carnival, another shot Bell said Cartwright was first choice.
“Georgina is a favourite of ours and she did a terrific job the two times she rode him in December,’’ he said.
Jungle Edge revels in the heavy ground to win at Randwick on June 9
“It’s nice to give her a chance, she’s a great rider and maybe all the Sydney trainers will see how good she is.’’
Bell reported Jungle Edge came through his last start win – where he famously declared the gelding “the best wet tracker in Australia’’ (Winx aside) in great style.
He’s also considering sticking around in Sydney for the Listed Civic Stakes (1350m), which has a maximum top weight of 61kg, at Rosehill on Saturday week.
“He does seem to have his mojo and his swagger back,’’ he said.
“It’s very cold in Melbourne at the moment but he’s loved coming back to his paddock and he seems to cope with the travelling. So we are buoyant about his chances.’’