Jockey Sam Weatherley believes the time is right for a post-carnival Sydney raid with promising four-year-old Mali Ston who makes his Sydney debut at Randwick on Saturday.
It’s been almost three years since Weatherley wound up a 15 month riding stint in Sydney and he returns to partner a horse trained by his father Darryn in what has been a well planned mission to target the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) on April 30.
A Group 2 winner of the Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day and third in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile at Trentham suggests to Weatherley that Mali Ston can be competitive in the Royal Randwick 100 (1400m) and into his main goal.
The 22-year-old does warn that the gelding, known as Meathead around the stable, might be in need of the run but he handles wet tracks and is still an untapped talent.
“There’s some quite good horses in the race so we’ll definitely get a good line on him,’’ Weatherley said.
“We wouldn’t bring him over here if we didn’t think he’s up to it.
“I think he is going to need the run a bit because he hasn’t had a run for 10 weeks and he missed a trial on Friday because they moved to the polytrack. That might be his only downfall.
“But he handles plenty of cut out of the ground which is going to help him.”
Mali Ston worked at Rosehill on Tuesday with Darryn Weatherley in the saddle alongside his travelling companion Maria Farina, partnered by Lee Magorrian, and was more than comfortable in the heavy ground.
Marina Farina is a lightly raced mare who will tackle some benchmark races while in Sydney and her presence is crucial to keeping Mali Ston, her ‘best mate’, settled.
Weatherley said the gelding generally isn’t a star trackworker and he will be ridden conservatively as he usually is back home.
“He’s a really unassuming horse, at trackwork he gives you nothing,’’ he said.
“He’s taken a while to click on, he’s that backwards so that’s why we’ve always ridden him quiet.
“He’s won five from eight and we don’t want to change it. He’s still a big baby really, it seems to be working and hopefully it works over here.
“Early in the race he likes to find his feet and all of a sudden you ask for an effort and he’s really electric.”
Since Weatherley called time on his Sydney stint he’s added a second Group 1 victory to his tally, winning the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes on Maven Belle two weeks ago and has enjoyed his most successful season back home.
He said he can’t wait to mix it with the Sydney jockeys again and to do it as part of his family unit, especially if he can win, is special.
“I was a bit homesick and that’s why I went home but I was still only very young at the time,’’ he said.
“I still rode about 50 winners in that time so I was happy with the way everything went.
“We’re a very tight knit family, always have been, and it’s pretty special to be riding winners for dad. I ride everything for him, I ride trackwork every day and my sister is second in charge.
“This season has been a breakthrough season really, I won the Karaka Million (on Pin Me Up) for Te Akau and a Group 1 for them (on Maven Belle).”
Weatherley said there was a heap of merit in Mali Ston’s third in the Thorndon Mile, particularly given the conditions of the race and the form that has come out of it.
Due to his Rich Hill Mile win he carried top weight at just his eighth start and spotted the much more experienced winner The Chosen One 2kg.
“The Chosen One had won $2.2 million before that race and was carrying 55kg and because our horse won a Group 2 the start before under set weights and penalties he carried 57kg so he was giving 2kg to the whole field,’’ he said.
“Coventina Bay finished second and he was only a neck from her and she’s won two weight-for-age Group 1s after that (Herbie Dyke and Bonecrusher Stakes). I think our horse is a pretty good horse.
“Mali Ston’s main aim is the Hawkesbury Gold Cup. We’re not aiming too high. He goes very well, he’s a Group 2 winner and Group 1 placed so I think he can be competitive.”
– Racing NSW