Brenton Avdulla hopes to protect his healthy lead in the Sydney jockeys’ premiership with several Brisbane-bound runners at Randwick.
Avdulla has a strong book for his first metropolitan Saturday meeting since a brief absence to treat a jaw infection.
While senior Sydney jockeys Corey Brown, Glyn Schofield, Kerrin McEvoy, Tim Clark and Tye Angland have already nailed bookings at Doomben, Avdulla and his nearest challenger Blake Shinn will focus on Sydney.
Avdulla, who has a 10-win buffer in the premiership, will be out to boost that margin with stayers Live And Free and Our Century, who are targeting the Group One Queensland Derby (2200m) and Group Two Brisbane Cup (2200m) respectively on June 9.
Live And Free continues his path to the Derby for trainer John O’Shea, the feature the three-year-old has been aimed at since arriving from New Zealand.
The $2.40 TAB favourite is back in action after winning over 1800m on May 5 and must overcome a wide draw to press his claims for Brisbane through the Wilson Asset Management Handicap (2000m).
“He was disappointing ridden on speed a couple of runs ago then he drew soft and won really well,” Avdulla said.
“He’ll be ridden a touch quieter and if he holds his form he’ll be very competitive.”
Avdulla picks up the ride on the Kim Waugh-trained stayer Our Century, the $2.70 favourite for the Listed McKell Cup (2400m), because Jason Collett is riding in Singapore.
Our Century had worked well since his victory in the Listed Lord Mayor’s Cup (2000m) and Avdulla also had no concerns about the trip, noting his run in last year’s Group Three Manion Cup.
“It took Big Duke to beat him on protest last time he got to a mile and a half in Sydney,” he said.
Avdulla also guides talented up and comers The Autumn Sun and Vontaine through the Energy Air Plate (1400m) and Supporterhub Handicap (1400m) as favourites.
Ideally, Avdulla says success at Randwick would lead to more lucrative rides in Brisbane for the six-time Group One winner.
“I should find out after Saturday. It’s a lead-up to Stradbroke Day, the Derby and two-year-olds though I’m happy to go wherever the fast horses are,” Avdulla said.