By Ray Hickson
The name Teo Nugent probably doesn’t ring too many bells with Sydney racegoers but the 21-year-old Victorian apprentice has seen a lot more of Randwick than you’d think.
Nugent spent three months with the Gai Waterhouse stable early last year but when he partners Dr Drill for his boss Ciaron Maher and David Eustace on Saturday it’ll be his first race ride on the course.
“I had a handful of rides while I was there, I went up to Port Macquarie for a few, but didn’t have any for Gai at the time,’’ he said.
“I’ve done a few trials on the course proper but never race day. It’ll be good to head back there.’’
Nugent, whose last trip to Sydney was in February to ride for Maher at Rosehill on Expressway Stakes Day, is a rising star in Victoria with designs on next season’s apprentice title and his path into the game has been an interesting one.
His father John is a trainer based near Warrnambool, and he grew up in that area, but he almost started his apprenticeship in Ireland three years ago where he attended the apprentice school for a year.
“They taught me all the basics, I spent 10 months with Michael Halford and came back home for a bit of a holiday,’’ Nugent said.
“I wanted to go back and start my apprenticeship with him but I bumped into Ciaron and everything went from there.’’
Nugent’s 3kg claim comes in handy to offset the 63kg Dr Drill was allotted in the Everest Carnival Handicap (1800m) where he’s $5 third favourite with TAB.
Dr Drill made his Sydney debut at Randwick two weeks ago and was beaten one length by Wu Gok at his first attempt on a heavy track and Nugent - who generally goes by the name Teo to avoid confusion with Theodore - is adamant he’ll be more effective back onto soft ground.
“He’s going to get out over 2000m and if you look at his form over in England he was dominant over a trip, he doesn’t swim through the mud but he gets through it so the soft 6 will be good,’’ he said.
“All through this prep he’s been progressing really well,’’ he said.
“He steps right down in class into a 78, he gets a lot of weight but he gets in with 60 (kilograms) and hopefully he is too good.
“He’ll be on pace somewhere, he’s a very nice horse to ride and pretty straightforward.’’
Dr Drill runs second at Randwick on July 6
Nugent rode the gelding in his Australian debut back in April and that fast finishing second left an impression so he’s rapt to be back on board and hopes to tick off another winner with just five wins left on his 3kg claim.
He's also booked to ride Tony Nicconi for the Lindsay Park team in the ATC Members Tour Handicap (1000m).
It’s the young rider’s second season of race riding and his first in the city where he’s ridden 13 in Melbourne and two in Adelaide. While he’s still inexperienced he oozes confidence.
“It’s been a really good season so far and I’m looking forward to taking out that apprentice title next season,’’ he said.