Hawkesbury-based former South Australian apprentice Brandon Griffiths has made a winning start in his adopted state. The 21-year-old rode his first New South Wales winner at Kembla Grange on Saturday, taking his overall tally to 57. He teamed with Hawkesbury trainer Wanda Ings to land the 1200m Maiden Handicap for three-year-olds and upwards.
Griffiths brought Missile Miss ($4.40) with a determined finish out wide to score first-up, defeating another Hawkesbury representative, Bernie Kelly’s $2.80 favorite Bobbing (Mitchell Bell).
It was fitting that he should break through in NSW for Ings. He had his first ride here for Ings on May 6 when placed on Nanpop and has ridden a further two placings for her. Griffiths is also the partner of the trainer’s daughter and fellow apprentice, Chelsea Ings.
Griffiths last rode in SA at Gawler at the end of last season; his previous winner before yesterday being On The Prowl at Port Augusta on July 23. He took a break from racing, cancelled his indentures and subsequently moved to NSW, where he decided to relaunch his career and is now apprenticed to Bronwyn Mackie at Hawkesbury.
“Brandon is an accomplished jockey, and has ridden three city winners in South Australia,” Wanda Ings said.
“He can claim 3kg in town, 2kg at the provincials and 1.5kg in the country. His riding weight is listed as 55kg, but he has worked really hard to get it under control.
“Although he was unable to claim on Missile Miss yesterday, we got special permission from stewards for him to ride the filly at her allotted 54kg.”
Griffiths followed his Kembla breakthrough with a close second to Kris Lees’ Bochy on Scone trainer Brett Cavanough’s Hot Pistol at Muswellbrook on Sunday. A 2016 Inglis Easter yearling sale purchase, Missile Miss (a daughter of Smart Missile) was initially sent to Wellington trainer Garry McCarney, but did not race for him.
“She was never going to be a two-year-old, and had a bad experience in the barriers,” Ings said.
“Since coming back to me, we have taken her along slowly.
“Missile Miss is gradually coming right, and I do have an opinion of her. She has a lot of ability.”
Unfortunately, Chelsea Ings’ best season has come to a premature end and she will not ride again until the new season. Ings was dislodged from Mackie’s Kailis Pearl not long after the start of the last race at Port Macquarie on May 18. She fractured the talus bone in her right ankle, and has not been able to ride since.
“It could be another three months before I can ride again,” she said. “I may need an operation to remove some floating pieces of bone.
“It’s been heart-breaking because things had been going so well. I was eighth on the NSW apprentices’ premiership table and fifth in the country.”
Ings had ridden 25 winners this season (48 overall) prior to the Port Macquarie incident.
Hawkesbury pair, trainer Craig Weeding and approved rider Michael Wade, had success at the Mudgee Picnics on Saturday. Wade rode the Weeding-trained six-year-old mare Operose ($2.40) to victory in the opening event, the Open Trophy Handicap (900m).