Gun Apprentices Prepare To Resume Hostilities

Dylan Gibbons is in the box seat to extend his premiership lead over arch-rival Zac Lloyd when the star duo resume their enthralling battle for the Sydney apprentices’ title at Randwick.

The former heads into Saturday’s meeting on 65 metropolitan wins, one clear of Lloyd and boasting an outstanding book of 10 rides highlighted by a brace of early favourites – two-year-old Epic Proportions in the opening race and Iowna Merc in the Bowermans Handicap (1200m).

In fact, with the exception of Diamond Dealer ($10) in the final event, Gibbons’ mounts are all at single-figure odds, including Brudnell ($3.60) who is on the second line of betting for the Vale Ray Selkrig Handicap (1100m), behind only Lloyd’s mount and $2.60 top pick Insurrection.

Lloyd’s book has been reduced to eight by the scratchings of juvenile Desperately and Brigantine in the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m), but he also has several leading chances, including West Of Africa ($4.40) in the second race and Excelladus ($4.60) in the Gipps St Social Handicap (1400m).

Gibbons and Lloyd are part of an exceptional group of young riders coming through the Sydney ranks, alongside last year’s champion junior Tyler Schiller and the emerging Reece Jones.

All four are good friends and have been supporting and pushing one another on their respective journeys, but it is Gibbons and Lloyd who have cleared out in this year’s title race.

Not only have they each ridden more than 50 winners – the first time two Sydney apprentices have done so in the same season -they have become the most successful junior riders in the more than four decades since Wayne Harris booted home 89 winners as an apprentice in 1980-81.

With seven metropolitan meetings remaining, Gibbons hopes he and Lloyd can continue to motivate each other to even greater heights.

“If me and Zac can keep pinging off each other, who knows how many we can get?” Gibbons said, after he and Lloyd had both ridden winning doubles at Rosehill last Saturday.

Renowned trainer David Payne, himself a former champion apprentice and jockey in South Africa, is enjoying watching the latest batch of youngsters making their marks.

He says their breakout seasons are not a flash in the pan and expects Gibbons, Lloyd and Schiller to be mainstays of the Sydney jockeys’ room for years to come.

“The three of them – Tyler, Zac and Dylan – they’re three top boys and I think they’re going to be the future,” Payne said.

– RAS NewsWire

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