It took a leap of faith for Irish-born apprentice Robbie Dolan to move to Australia and he is again prepared to back himself as he launches into the next phase of his riding career.
The 24-year-old notched his 80th winner last week to outride his allowance and Saturday’s Randwick meeting was the final day he could utilise his claim.
And he left life as a claiming apprentice in the best way possible, winning on Blazing Miss for his master Mark Newnham in the last of nine races.
As of this week, Dolan will be on an even footing with Sydney jockey room heavyweights Hugh Bowman, James McDonald and Kerrin McEvoy.
He remains an apprentice in name only, but the level-headed Dolan is prepared for the challenge.
“I feel like I’ve worked my way up, I’m riding with enough confidence to take the next step,” Dolan said.
“Obviously it’s very hard to do it in Sydney but I feel I’ve had a good grounding here and I’ve got plenty of good connections behind me.”
Limited opportunities in Ireland led Dolan to try his luck in Sydney four years ago and he has not looked back.
Last season’s champion apprentice, Dolan has tasted stakes success, most recently aboard Splintex for Newnham, and he has dipped his toe into Group One racing with a handful of rides.
Having achieved his goal to outride his claim, Dolan’s next mission is to become the first apprentice to defend his Sydney premiership title since Sam Clipperton six years ago.
“It’s not going to be easy, there are still two months of the season left and that’s two months without a claim,” Dolan said.
“I’m still hoping for the best and hoping for the good rides to still come in and we’ll see what happens.”
One of Dolan’s biggest advantages is his weight.
He can comfortably ride at 49kg and hopes this can set him apart when it comes to landing big-race rides.
“Going forward I’d like to think I can be one of the go-to light weight jockeys in the room.”
Dolan’s first meeting without a claim will be at Canterbury on Wednesday.