Since outriding his claim with a winning treble at Flemington last month, apprentice Regan Bayliss has continued to make his mark.
And he hopes to add to his season tally on Saturday at Flemington before beginning an 11-meeting ban for careless riding incurred at Sandown on Wednesday when he rode a winning double.
Bayliss has ridden seven city winners since outriding his allowance on December 17 including Annus Mirabilis in the Listed Bagot Handicap at Flemington on January 1.
He sits equal fourth, alongside Damien Oliver, in the Melbourne jockeys’ premiership with 24 wins and has the chance to add another black-type victory on Saturday aboard last-start Christmas Stakes runner-up Grande Rosso in the Chester Manifold Stakes.
Grande Rosso forms part of a book of seven rides for Bayliss at the meeting.
While he is delighted with how the season has gone so far Bayliss is determined to keep improving to ensure he continues to get the opportunities.
“It’s been terrific but you can’t rest on your laurels,” he said.
“You’ve always got to keep striving to be the best and keep being well-prepared and keep improving yourself as a rider.
“Now that I’ve got no claim I’m up against all the seniors on a level playing field, so as long as I keep improving and keep up my work ethic I’ll be fine.”
Five-year-old Grande Rosso has won five of his 23 starts and run six seconds.
He was transferred from Wez Hunter to the Lindsay Park team in October and has won two of his past four starts with both wins coming over 1400m at Bendigo and Pakenham.
The gelding was beaten 1-1/4 lengths when dropped back from 1400m to 1200m in the Listed Christmas Stakes at Caulfield on December 26.
He is challenging for favouritism for Saturday’s Listed feature in which he steps back up to 1400m.
“He’s a horse who can sprint well at the six furlongs (1200m) but I think his pet distance is the seven furlongs,” Bayliss said.
“That’s when he seems to fly.
“Last start he just got outsprinted by Lucky Liberty but then I thought his last furlong was very strong.
“He’s drawn perfectly in barrier eight and should get a lovely run in transit and I think he’ll be very hard to beat.”
Divine Mr Artie is holding favouritism at $4 ahead of Grande Rosso at $4.60.