Mates since their days as apprentice riders, trainer Robbie Griffiths and jockey Ivan Culliver have combined for a metropolitan win at Sandown.
Griffiths said Culliver, 49, was an important part of his team, riding trackwork and helping educate young horses, but Wednesday’s win on Winston’s Lad was a rare city ride for the veteran hoop.
Culliver’s last win in town was a Listed victory for Griffiths on Cocinero almost a decade ago.
Winston’s Lad took out the Appelles Maiden Plate at his third start and was the opening leg of a winning double for the Griffiths stable with It’s One scoring later on the card with Mark Zahra aboard.
“We were great mates in our jockey days at Epsom training centre. We were apprenticed at the same time, and pretty much the day I started training he walked in and wanted a job,” Griffiths said of his long association with Culliver.
“We’ve been mates ever since and worked together ever since.”
Griffiths said he mostly used Culliver to help educate young horses.
“He’s a big part of the business every day, especially with the young horses early in their career just making sure the education process goes well,” the trainer said.
“He’s certainly a big part of our stable so to see him win today at Sandown is fantastic.”
While Winston’s Lad broke through for his first win, stablemate It’s One is starting to put it all together and Griffiths believes he might have found the key to the mare with the use of a visor.
It’s One scored at Mornington last start with a visor on for the first time and backed it up with her 1-1/2 length win in a 1500m race on Wednesday.
“She was always a mare that would lose concentration quite easily but with blinkers on she would over-race,” Griffiths said.
The trainer reverted to winkers which didn’t have the desired result so he settled on a visor instead of going back to blinkers.
“We split the difference and put a visor on which gives her just a bit more vision and she’s won her last two starts,” the trainer said.
“So hopefully it’s onwards and upwards for her.”
The win wasn’t all sweet for Zahra as he was suspended for nine meetings for careless riding at the 300m mark of the race and also fined $400 for using the whip more times than allowed before the 100m mark.