Danny Nikolic’s confidence is rising at the right time, and so is his level of success.
As momentum builds for the spring racing carnival, Nikolic has revived his fortunes after suspension and controversy last year derailed his riding career.
Determined to bounce back, the support he once enjoyed is returning and a stakeswinning double on Mosheen (Group Two Edward Manifold) and Isopach (Listed UCI Stakes) at Flemington on Sunday has given his spring even more traction.
He believes the John Thompson-trained Isopach can go all the way to the Victoria Derby while Mosheen is $4.60 second favourite for next Wednesday’s Group One Thousand Guineas at Caulfield.
Once again big race opportunities are opening up for Nikolic who hasn’t won a Group One since Starspangledbanner landed the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield in February last year.
On Saturday he takes the reins on rank outsider General Offer in the Caulfield Guineas and partners Torio’s Quest for the first time in the Toorak Handicap.
His other rides are Pontington (Thoroughbred Club Stakes), Exceptionally (Herbert Power Stakes), Miss Octopussy (Sportingbet Sprint Series Final) and Veewap (BMW Handicap).
Nikolic said Torio’s Quest, who is $9 with TAB Sportsbet, was possibly his best winning chance for the day.
Suspended jockey Hugh Bowman and Glen Boss, who is injured, have ridden the Oratorio gelding at his last two starts for a win in the Queensland Guineas and first-up second in the Theo Marks Quality respectively.
Most recently Torio’s Quest was also a leading contender for the Shannon Stakes at Rosehill but didn’t start after he got loose and jumped the outside fence.
Trainer Brett Partelle decided against running in last Saturday’s Epsom Handicap and a top three finish in the Toorak would confirm Cox Plate plans for the four-year-old.
“I think they are looking at bigger things with him and he is probably my best chance on Saturday,” Nikolic said.
He said it was a hot field but Torio’s Quest should get a good trail in the race.
“He has drawn seven of 14 so we will be trying to slot in there somewhere and hopefully get on the back of a horse like Toorak Toff.”
Rick Hore-Lacy declared Toorak Toff “spot-on” for the Toorak and he will jump from barrier five.
“I couldn’t be happier with him,” Hore-Lacy said.
“He should get a nice run from the gate, one out, two or three back, and I think the mile (1600m) is right up his alley.”
Chris Symons reunites with Toorak Toff after winning on him twice in his first three starts as a two-year-old.