At the Racing Awards night at the Hyatt Hotel, on Saturday August 3, top trainer Adam Durrant made the point in his speech that jockeys were elite athletes and should be recognised as such.
Durrant who had just won his third trainers premiership for the 2012/13 season (that ended on July 31) is correct and his comments came after an impresssive display of horsemanship by champion rider Paul Harvey that very afternoon.
Originally booked for five rides the heavyweight jockey had to forfeit two of those rides – one of them a winner-when he could not make the weight of 56kg.
It still did not stop the man dubbed The Pontiff from completing a treble from his three rides.
The Pontiff is a good, albeit over used, nick-name for Harvey, for like the Catholic pope he has many adherents.
My mate, The Pillster, (a retired pharmacist and former left arm wrist spinner for God’s chosen side, the North Perth CC), thought Harvey’s second winning ride was superb, aboard Full Steam Ahead, and that “no-one else would have won on him.”
Perhaps only Jerry Noske would have disagreed with that comment as after riding Terminado into fourth place she fired in what could be described as a ‘fairly ambitious’ protest against Harvey’s winner, for interference at the 1400m mark.
It was at that point in the race that Harvey decided to reef Full Steam Ahead off the heel of the grey pacemaker Verdello Blue (Craig Staples) as he was racing a little fiercely.
Harvey did not push up to challenge Verdello Blue, instead he maintained his charge in second position, in the one-off-the fence line, and Full Steam Ahead then settled and saved his ‘full steam’ until the home straight.
He ultimately prevailed by a long neck over his dogged grey rival, a galloper who usually can be relied on to fight out his races.
The win gave trainer Nicole Pateman her first metropolitan winner and erased doubts she had about starting her charge again so quickly after his second on July 27. On that occasion he lumped 61.5kg on a slow seven track.
Harvey’s first , of three, 59kg winners for the day, came on Accrual who, according to his trainer, Trevor Andrews, needed a strong and patient rider to give of his best. He got that in spades with Harvey in the saddle and finished over the top of Danablue, after Harvey had ‘sweated’ on that rival until the business end of the race.
Harvey’s final win came on the Eric Wake trained galloper, Dueton who finished strongly from midfield to win, finding time in the process to ‘pocket’ Classitheatre (Shaun O’Donnell) momentarily before going on to finish off War Prince (Ryan Hill).
O’Donnell had earlier been the beneficiary of Harvey’s failure to make the weight on First Flight (second in the second race) and the Justin Warwick trained The Alleged (winner of the fourth race). The latter worked hard early, then got a sit and despite being out on his feet at the end staved off Young Lionel (Chris Parnham) by a half length.
O’Donnell has a good strike rate on pick-up rides and is seemingly as lean and as fit as any greyhound thus fulfilling Durrant’s dictum about jockeys being elite athletes.
O’Donnell is one of a number of professionals that could justify any owner or trainer simply throwing their colours into the riders room and being confident a jockey of quality would pick them up.
Apart from the dynamic duo, William Pike (67) and Paul Harvey (49.5) there was little to separate the next 10 jockeys in the winning riders list last season.
Troy Turner and Steven Parnham both finished equal third on 36; then O’Donnell Peter Knuckey and Jason Whiting (35), leading metropolitan apprentice, Ben Paterson(34), Jarrad Noske (33), Chris Parnham (32.5) Pat Carbery (31) and Daniel Staeck (30).
Add Brad Parnham (26), now in Mauritius, and Shaun McGruddy (25) to the mix and you have a very even cluster of capable jockeys and the list does not end there either.
In a strong performance by horse and rider, Steven Parnham needed all his strength to land the Sharon Taylor trained galloper, Tax A Million, a narrow winner of the last race on Saturday. It was good to see the personable trainer gain some joy as there has been enough sorrow in her life in recent times.
Parnham’s charge rolled off on the turn and Saturday Skies (McGruddy) pushed up along the fence to slug it out with the leader all the way down the straight.
That duel emphasised the peak fitness needed by riders to prevail.
Trainer Grant Williams also had a good day, winning the first two races with Midnight Shimmer (Chanelle O’Grady) and Friarday (Glenn Smith), respectively.