By Ray Hickson
Group 1 winning jockey Blake Spriggs doesn’t get as many opportunities as you’d think a rider who has won at the highest level would but he’s excited about chasing a hat-trick on El Coyote at Hawkesbury on Thursday for his biggest supporter.
The John Thompson-trained four-year-old, gelded going into this preparation, is raced by Paul Fudge’s Waratah Thoroughbreds and carries the colours Spriggs wore to a Group 1 win on Sir John Hawkwood for Thompson and Fudge in 2016.
El Coyote steps up in class and distance in The Chairman’s Mile (1600m) and Spriggs is adamant it won’t be the distance that beats him if his winning run ends.
“That was the first question the owner asked me after the last start and I had no hesitation about him running a mile,’’ Spriggs said.
“I found last start he was wanting to switch off midrace and wanted to relax like a stayer.
“All the signs are there he will run a mile and the bit I liked the best about his last win was I got there a bit too soon but the last 100m he pinned the ears back and was pulling away again.’’
Spriggs feels the decision to geld El Coyote at the end of his first racing preparation would have been an easy one as he said the horse’s manners cost him at least one win in that campaign.
El Coyote wins at Kembla Grange on June 15
But there’s been no tractability problems or issues of will in his impressive wins at Goulburn and Kembla Grange.
“He always showed he had a bit of ability we but had to get him in the right mindset,’’ Spriggs said.
“This time in he’s a real racehorse and there’s been a couple of traits in his races since that have told me he’s going to be one of those consistent gallopers from here on in.
“I think my bloke has a lot to give, that we’re only seeing the start of an uphill rise. He’s probably going to be box seat or three pairs back and he gets that nice draw to be able to switch him off.’’
While El Coyote is considered one of the winning chances, at $6 with TAB, in his race the same can’t be said for Spriggs’ other Hawkesbury ride which is $71 chance Sun And Heir in the Conferencing & Events Handicap (1300m).
In the five-year-old’s defence, Spriggs said he arguably should have won at Nowra on a heavy track last month but circumstances conspired against them. Still, the gelding’s record is just one win from 25 starts.
“He didn’t run too badly last start because he’s not a horse you want to sit outside the lead on,’’ he said.
“I had to push forward from a wide gate and got to the front a long way from home on a horse that hasn’t won for a long time.’’