The battle for Melbourne’s jockeys’ premiership was renewed with immediacy and vigour at Sandown on Wednesday with the two main combatants, Craig Newitt and Luke Nolen, fighting out the first finish of the day.
Newitt took the honours and drew level with Nolen on 68 wins thanks to first starter King’s Pardon in the Event Landscaping Solutions Hcp (1000m).
And in a finish that typified a season-long tussle, Nolen finished a short-half head behind on the odds-on favourite Planet Voyage.
While King’s Pardon’s win kept Newitt in the race for his first jockeys’ title, it also had considerable significance for trainer Mick Price.
A massive two-year-old who weighs only a couple of kilograms less than the giant mare Black Caviar, King’s Pardon had been kept for a late-season debut.
“He needed time for it all to come together” Price said.
“He’s a big horse, he’s got a big head and he’s got big open knees.
“He simply couldn’t have come to the races any earlier.”
Price said King’s Pardon tipped the scales at 568kg – and his size worked in his favour in the tight finish.
The colt’s inexperience was apparent when he blundered as he left the starting gates and nearly tipped Newitt out of the saddle.
“I almost went over the handlebars,” Newitt said.
“So he’s done a great job to recover, let alone win.”