Leading kiwi jockey Mark Du Plessis will ride Queensland hope Most Important in the Group One Stradbroke Handicap at Doomben.
Trainer Tony Gollan and owners Graham and Linda Huddy had a long discussion before electing to go with Du Plessis who has been based in Brisbane this winter.
They were left looking for a rider after Most Important’s regular jockey this winter, Jim Byrne, elected to switch to Crack Me Up in Saturday’s Stradbroke (1350m).
Du Plessis is originally from Zimbabwe but has been riding for the past two decades in New Zealand and Hong Kong where he has taken his total number of winners to more than 2000.
He has ridden about 90 Group winners including 24 at Group One level.
Gollan said Du Plessis was an ideal replacement for Byrne as he had a lot of experience in races ranging from the Melbourne Cup to some of Hong Kong’s best races.
“He can also ride 53kg without any trouble which is a big plus,” Gollan said.
Gollan is hoping Most Important can bounce back from being well beaten in the Group One Kingsford Smith Cup last start.
“He seemed to have swallowed a lot of dirt and mud during the race so there was an excuse. This is his grand final on Saturday and he is much better off at the weights,” Gollan said.
Most Important was second in the Victory Stakes first-up and then a close-up eighth in the Group One Doomben 10000 at his previous starts before the Kingsford Smith Cup.
His two-year-old stablemate A Man To Match’s third in the Phoenix Stakes at Caloundra earned him a place in Saturday’s Group One J J Atkins Stakes but he is unlikely to run.
“It was a good third because he wanted to roll in. But we have hopes for him in the spring in Sydney and possibly in Melbourne where he might be a Victoria Derby horse,” Gollan said.
“He is by High Chaparral so we expect him to make a very nice three-year-old stayer. It is best if we ease off on him at this stage.”
Gollan’s track and distance specialist Sheiswhatsheis will run in the Listed Wayne Wilson Memorial (1600m).