James Orman will add his name to an elite group of apprentice jockeys if he can win the Group One Doomben Cup on Messene.
This time last year the young Queenslander was riding at bush and provincial tracks but on Saturday he will be going up against the best jockeys in Australia.
Orman can join Michael Rodd, who scored on Bush Padre in 2004, as an apprentice to have won the Doomben Cup since it became a Group one race in 1990.
Gary Palmer and Jim Denman were also apprentices when they the Cup when it was a handicap.
Orman is leading the Queensland jockeys’ premiership on 127 winners and is second in the metropolitan title with 59 winners.
But a better sign of how far Orman has come is that he is now being sought by major southern stables for Group One rides.
Orman had his first Group One ride on Target In Sight for Warwick Farm trainer Joe Pride in the BTC Cup last Saturday and will ride Messene for Hawkes Racing.
“Naturally, it is a real honour to ride for these stables. I hope I can earn more Group One rides,” Orman said.
Michael Cahill will again ride Messene’s stablemate Leebaz after they combined to win the Group Two Hollindale Stakes.
“Leebaz seems to like the Gold Coast but he was second in the Doomben Cup two years ago. He has drawn barrier two so that will suit him,” Cahill said.
Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes joked he wished the Doomben Cup was at the Gold Coast because Leebaz had won his only two starts at the track.
“But he is an older horse and he is fit so he is here for races like the Doomben Cup,” Hawkes said.
Leebaz will be having his third start in the Doomben Cup. He ran second to Streama in 2014 but struck trouble last year when second-last.
A win by either horse would give the senior member of the Hawkes combination, father John, a win in every Brisbane Group One race.
He has won the Doomben 10,000 (Accomplice), BTC Cup (Lord Essex, Accomplice), JJ Atkins (Freemason, Anthems), Queensland Derby (Tenor, Freemason, Dodge, Toulouse Lautrec), Oaks (Booked), and Stradbroke (Crawl).
Rival trainer John O’Shea has made significant gear change on Cup favourite Hauraki, removing winkers and adding blinkers.