WAGGA apprentice jockey Stacey Metcalfe admits she is “anxious and excited’ ahead of her first metropolitan ride at Rosehill on Saturday.
Metcalfe has been given the nod to ride promising Wagga three-year-old Zakynthos Regrets in the $60,000 TAB Highway Handicap (1100m).
Metcalfe has only been race riding for a little over 12 months but was granted approval from Racing NSW stewards this week to take the ride, after connections decided to stick solid with the Wagga apprentice.
Cootamundra-based trainer George Dimitropoulos wanted Metcalfe to stay on the horse, despite her limited experience, a decision that was backed by Gundagai owner Tony Loukissas.
“It’s unbelievable,” a delighted Metcalfe said.
“I honestly didn’t think I would ride in the city. I’m pretty well gobsmacked.
“George went to see the stewards after the win at Leeton and I got the all clear and now I’m going to town.
“I think it’s a pretty big thing for (the connections) to keep me on. Going to the city, they could have easily put a city jockey on, but they didn’t.
“I’m pretty lucky.”
Metcalfe, 29, has 230 race rides to her name for 21 career victories.
She has partnered Zakynthos Regrets at all four of his race starts, including his two dominant victories this preparation at Wagga and Leeton.
Dimitropoulos said there was no good reason to look for a city jockey.
“The way I look at it is, people say there are a lot better city jockeys to use, and that’s true, but Stacey hasn’t done anything wrong on the horse this prep,” Dimitropoulos said.
“She knows the horse and she deserves her chance.”
Zakynthos Regrets has drawn barrier eight of 14 in the Highway. Metcalfe’s three kilogram claim means he will carry just 54.5kg.
“I’m anxious and excited,” Metcalfe said.
“I’m still pretty confident, the horse has a tonne of ability. I think he’ll put a pretty good show on, I reckon he will be up there at the end when it counts.”
Metcalfe said Saturday will be, without doubt, the highlight of her career to date.
“It couldn’t get much better than this,” she said.
“If we win, there will be a big celebration.”
Zakynthos Regrets is a $4.60 chance with TAB and will be Southern District’s first Highway winner, if successful.
Dimitropoulos, who has has tasted city success in Adelaide previously, is confident of a strong showing.
“I think he will go well,” he said.
“We took his bloods and everything is spot on. I can’t see why he won’t go close.”