Express Pass after a Group 1 first

Nick Ryan carved out a successful career as a jockey before weight got the better of him and is now proving himself a more than handy trainer. But one thing that he has not been able to put on his CV to date is a Group 1 win.

 Nick Ryan is looking for his first Group 1 as a jockey or a trainer, picture Racing Photos

Ryan had six Group 1 seconds as a jockey and last month went within a short-head of claiming the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield with Dice Roll (Fr). His latest Group 1 attempt will be with Express Pass in the Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley on Friday night, and he is looking forward to the challenge. 

Express Pass is currently a $23 chance with TAB. Savatoxl is the $4.40 favourite ahead of Lombardo at $4.80. 

But Ryan has been planning his assault on Friday night’s race since Express Pass took out the Listed Chautauqua Stakes over the same course and distance on September 4. The 5-year-old followed that performance finishing fifth behind Splintex in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on September 11. 

“When he won the Chautauqua he was fresh and he’s got a bit of a liking for The Valley. He’s had two starts for a win and a second, so hopefully he can get the race run to suit,” Ryan said. “And if he gets the right run in transit, he’s a chance. 

“He’s best ridden with a sit, he’s got a great turn of foot and he seems to really bounce off the camber. It’s a throw at the stumps and it’s a very strong Group 1, but I couldn’t be happier with the horse.” 

Jockey Rhys McLeod has four Group 1 wins to his name but is yet to notch one in Melbourne. His last Group 1 win was aboard Ethiopia in the 2012 Australian Derby at Randwick and Ryan has seen a commitment from McLeod this spring. 

“He rode at 56 [kilos] at Horsham on Sunday and it’s the fittest he has been for a long time,” Ryan said. “It would be very rewarding for him.”