Trainer Luke Clarke has called on last year’s Newhaven Park Country Championships winning jockey Nick Heywood to partner his stable star Testator Silens as he attempts to claim the South East Championships for the second time at Moruya on Sunday.
Heywood rode Another One to victory in both the Southern Districts feature and the Final at Randwick in 2022 and Clarke was more than happy to snap him up when he needed a rider for the talented five-year-old.
“He’s been there and done it, I’ve wanted to get Nick on the horse for a while so it’s been in the pipeline,’’ Clarke said.
“Nick had a ride on him on Tuesday and he just did what he had to do.”
Testator Silens hasn’t won since he took out the race last year at Nowra and the Braidwood trainer said the long gap into the Final, where he eventually ran seventh, of almost two months may have affected his performance that day.
Since then he’s contested the $2 million The Kosciuszko and had three more starts in city company including the Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) first-up.
“I’d love to have another crack at it, I probably made a few mistakes going into the final last year,’’ he said.
“It was six or eight weeks between runs and you need a hard fit horse going into it. I would have gone into it a little bit differently if I had the time again.
“He looks to be in good order, he’s had three weeks between runs which is ideal. At least you know with him he puts in every time he goes around.”
The gelding was beaten just on two lengths by Quantico in the Southern Cross and Clarke said it was a more than pleasing build up for a Country Championships assignment.
He currently shares top billing in TAB’s pre-noms market on the $500,000 Final at Royal Randwick on April 1 alongside Akasawa who booked his place in the race winning at Tamworth last weekend.
“He ran well first-up, Tyler (Schiller) said he had to go back to the inside which was probably the worst going on the day and he was only beaten less than two lengths,’’ Clarke said.
“You could probably say there was an excuse for half a length.
“I think he’s going as good if not better than last year.
“There’s a lot of up and coming young horses there with good form, and winning form, my bloke hasn’t won for 12 months but he’s been in strong races.”
Testator Silens is no stranger to the Moruya circuit having scored on debut there back in May 2021 plus Clarke has taken him there for numerous jump outs at the course.
Just one more regional Country Championships remains for 2023 with Coonamble hosting the Western Districts race on March 12 then the second chance Wild Cards at Goulburn (Southern horses) on March 17 and Scone (Northern horses) two days later.
– Racing NSW