The 44th Australia v Ireland Jockey Challenge looks set to come right down to the wire again on Saturday as the Aussies look to claim their first series win since 2015.
Team Ireland claimed the 2018 edition by 32 points to 26 and this year’s series is evenly poised with Australia holding a slender three point lead with the ledger at 19.5 points to 16.5.
The Australians chances of claiming their first series win in three years were buoyed by victories from Darryl Horner Jnr and Lee Horner who got the job done in the high-weight races at Gawler on Wednesday. Lee Horner has been in great form recently winning four of his last eleven rides since July and filling the placings on four other occasions.
Saturday will be the Australian riding debut for the Irishman Danny Mullins who only arrived in Australia on Thursday. His countryman Liam Gilligan got off to a solid start running third in the second high-weight race aboard Grant Young’s Exalted Craftsman.
Race Two – Steeplechase
Ciaron Maher & David Eustace’s Ascot Red is the $1.50 favourite in this race which is very good news for Team Australia’s Will Gordon who takes the ride. Ascot Red was a strong winner at Ballarat last start and the Maher & Eustace team always place their horses well.
Danny Mullins will have a live chance in his first Australian race, hopping aboard Steven Pateman’s Historic. The six-year-old broke his maiden status last start at Coleraine winning by a lazy six lengths. Pateman has made the transition from jockey to trainer very nicely and claimed a winner at Gawler on Wednesday with Zubrowka.
The Barry Brook trained pair of Searaven and Caroun have to be respected here and the topweight Searaven is in good touch claiming the Grand National Steeplechase here in June. He’s been a great hurdler for the Brook stable, as has been Caroun who wasn’t far off a win in the Thackeray at Warrnambool in July.
Race Four – Hurdle
Master jumps trainer Eric Musgrove will have a strong hand in this race with three runners including last start winner Romelo and the super consistent Youl Dash for Cash. Musgrove’s last Irish Day winner came in 2017 when Pentomatic won this race with the unstoppable Irishman Donagh Meyler aboard.
Steve Pateman will saddle up the favourite in the race, My Four Oh Nine and while the six-year-old is still a maiden over the jumps, he’s filled the placings in five of his eight jumps races and has run second in his last three starts. Darryl Horner Jr will be looking for his second win of the series on this favourite.
Californiagrandcru will make his jumps debut here for trainer Amy McDonald and jockey Lee Horner. Earlier this year he ran in the Listed Bagot Handicap at Flemington so he definitely has some class as a horse and has been well supported in the market despite only one trial over the jumps.
McDonald’s other runner Tara Dreaming has some form around the talented jumper Northern Voyage from the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott yard and that combination have sent over Just a Joke for his second jumps start after failing to finish in his debut run.
Team Ireland: Danny Mullins, Liam Gilligan, Shane Jackson and Ronan Short
Team Australia: Richard Cully, Will Gordon, Darryl Horner Jnr and Lee Horner