Luke Nolen is working his way back to peak riding fitness after a summer break and scored his first city win of the year at Caulfield on Wednesday.
Nolen’s victory in the Alannah Hill Handicap (2412m) on the Mick Kent-trained Aggregator was the jockey’s first city win since December 13 at Moonee Valley.
The multiple Melbourne premiership winner took a five-week break over the Christmas and new year period and returned to race riding on January 26.
He said his fitness was improving but there was no substitute for race riding.
“I’ve ridden a power of work,” Nolen said.
“It will come. It’s just going to take a good lot of riding to get me back to where I was.”
Nolen made a move from back in the field on Aggregator well before the home turn to put the stayer into the race and he fought it out to the line to defeat the fast-finishing Proper Madam by a half-head with a half-length to Rock Vantage in third.
The Anthony Cummings-trained Alpha Beat, meanwhile, could get the chance to try to emulate his half brother Upbeat in next month’s Group Two Autumn Classic after a strong win in the Glam Beauty South Yarra Plate (1600m).
Upbeat won the Group Two Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield two years ago and Alpha Beat is likely to head that way on February 22.
In-form jockey Damien Oliver settled back in the field on Alpha Beat ($3.80) and tracked favourite Jade’s Boy ($3.30) into the race. He was left a bit flat footed when the favourite sprinted but picked up and got the better of Jade’s Boy by a head on the line.
“His half brother Upbeat won the Autumn Classic here a couple of years ago and sat on the speed and ran away from them that day,” Cummings’ Melbourne stable representative Dan Williams said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see us have a crack at that.”
Oliver labelled Alpha Beat a progressive horse.
“It was only his fourth start today but he’s going in the right direction,” he said.