Three leading interstate apprentices will take on some of the best young jockeys in Victoria in the second leg of the National Apprentice Race Series at Sandown-Hillside this afternoon.
Steph Thornton, Chris Caserta and Ethan Brown will attempt to increase Victoria’s early lead in the apprentice-only series, but the trio will face some stiff competition with Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania all sending some talented young hoops to Melbourne.
Morphettville-based apprentice Raquel Clark will represent SA when she takes the ride for in-form trainer Colin Little on Kazio, a last-start winner at Sale.
The 24-year-old has so far clocked up 34 city winners in her fledgling career, most recently at Launceston last week in the inaugural Australian Female Jockey Championship.
Queensland’s leading apprentice Jag Guthmann-Chester will ride hot favourite Heptagon for trainer Mick Price.
Heptagon’s last win came at Sandown in mid-February, and according to the bookmakers the four-year-old gelding is well placed to deliver an 18th metropolitan win for Guthmann-Chester, who recently returned to race riding after an enforced absence through injury.
The third and final interstate apprentice competing in the race is Tasmania’s Chris Graham, who has been engaged to ride Romanesque for Darren Weir’s right-hand man Jarrod McLean.
Graham’s 48 career wins include victory on Overplay in the Listed Tasmanian Guineas in January this year.
Western Australian apprentice Randy Tan, who was due to compete in the race, will not take his part as a result of this morning's scratching of the Patrick Payne-trained Lord Smedley.
The Mitavite National Apprentice Riders Race (1400m) kicks off Ladbrokes Park Hillside’s twilight meeting at 3pm.
Points are awarded to all jockeys riding in each race, with the winner receiving seven points and the runner-up five. Third place is rewarded with three points, fourth place gets two points and all unplaced riders receive one point. The state that accumulates the most points across the series is crowned the winner.
Victoria took an early lead in the 2018 National Apprentice Race Series after Alexandra Bryan won the opening race in Tasmania on Sunday, 25 February.
Doomben Racecourse will play host next when the series moves to Queensland on Wednesday, 21 March.
Gawler Racecourse, south of Adelaide, is next up on Wednesday, 4 April, and the series comes to a close on Wednesday, 11 April when Ascot Racecourse, in Perth, hosts the fifth and final heat.