The prospect of riding smart Cambridge three-year-old Kali (NZ) (Darci Brahma) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day has lured Melbourne-based jockey Mick Dee back to New Zealand.
The former successful New Zealand apprentice landed a treble on his last trip back to New Zealand, for the second day of the New Zealand Cup meeting at Riccarton last month, and will be mixing business with pleasure on his Christmas-New Year trip.
Dee owns a Waipukurau farm with his parents, Richard and Jo, and had already planned to return there to celebrate Christmas when the offer to ride Kali in the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) arose.
“I’ve been home for Christmas for the last few years and rode at Ellerslie on Boxing Day two years ago, but had the week off last year,” Dee said.
“This time I’ll fly over on the 24th (December), have Christmas with my family, then go up to ride at Ellerslie on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.”
Kali was one of the favourites for the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton last start following an impressive win in the Gr.3 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m) at Ashburton, but she was hampered in the early stages of the Guineas and was last on settling before winding up sixth, three lengths from her winning stablemate, Loire (NZ) (Redoute’s Choice).
“She had 10 days off after Christchurch and looks fantastic,” trainer Tony Pike said.
“She has been back in a couple of weeks and there’s a strong chance she will get to the Railway. Three-year-olds have a good record in it.
“She’ll have an exhibition gallop at Ellerslie on the course proper beforehand.”
Kali will get into the Railway with 51.5kg, the reason a lightweight rider of Dee’s calibre was quickly called upon.
Pike also plans to run Endless Drama (Lope De Vega), winner of the Gr.2 Easter Handicap (1600m) and Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m), in the Railway.
The eight-year-old has returned from Perth where he finished tenth in the Gr.1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m), just under five and a half lengths from the winner, Hey Doc (Duporth).
“He had no luck in the run over there,” Pike said. “They took the speed out of the race and that didn’t suit him.
“He came back last Thursday and is having a week in the paddock then will go fresh into the Railway.
“I enjoyed Perth and would take another horse back if I felt it was good enough.”
Dee has kept up his good form since returning to Melbourne from Riccarton, where his three wins included the Gr.3 Stewards Stakes (1200m) and the Dan Miller-trained stablemate Lavaglo (NZ) (Rock ‘n’ Pop).
Dee has ridden seven winners in his last 44 rides and picked up a double over the weekend, including Nerve Not Verve (NZ) (Shocking) for trans-Tasman trainer Mike Moroney at Moonee Valley on Friday, and earlier he won a couple of races for former Kiwi trainers, Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young.
“Nerve Not Verve won very well,” Dee said. “She led them up, was taken on, and kicked away to win by almost three lengths.”
Dee has been riding trackwork at Flemington for Moroney and has been rewarded with other race rides and hopes to pick up further mounts for him and Matamata training partner Pam Gerard during his two-day stint at Ellerslie.
“Dean Williams is taking my rides and there are a few possibles at this stage, but not confirmed,” Dee said.
“John Sargent was talking of taking Luvaluva (NZ) (Mastercraftsman) over for the Zabeel Classic (Gr.1, 2000m) on Boxing Day and Tony McEvoy also mentioned Aristocratic Miss (Foxwedge) for it, but she only ran third in the Werribee Cup (2000m on Sunday) so I’m not sure she’ll go now.
“I know Dan (Miller) is planning to run Lavaglo on Boxing Day so I’ll be riding that.”
Meanwhile, Dee will be representing New Zealand, along with Sam Collett, in this weekend’s Racing Queensland TAB Origin Jockeys Series, which has attracted Michael Rodd back from Singapore to join Kathy O’Hara in the New South Wales team.
The series, which features 12 top jockeys going head-to-head in a battle for Origin supremacy and the Waterford Crystal Origin Jockey trophy, begins on Friday at the twilight meeting at Doomben with three races and ends with two events at Eagle Farm on Saturday. “I’m looking forward to it,” Dee said. “I just hope I get some good rides.”