Refreshed from a holiday after a break-out season, Beau Mertens is keen to begin his new campaign on a winning note at Flemington.
In his first full year riding in the metropolitan arena, Mertens notched 73 winners in 2016-17.
He comfortably won the apprentices’ title while he fell just short against all-comers, finishing second in the Melbourne jockeys’ premiership to Craig Williams.
“It was obviously a really good season,” Mertens said.
“I probably haven’t really sat down and had a good think about how everything played out but I definitely can’t complain.
“It certainly exceeded my expectations.”
The 20-year-old has had a couple of weeks off and returns to action with four rides on Saturday at Flemington including Ruettiger in the Group Three Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m).
His first scheduled ride on Saturday is imported stayer Kilimanjaro who is the $3 favourite for the VRC Member Beverley Hogan Handicap (2530m).
Mertens returned to Victoria on Wednesday after holidaying in Bali and the Gold Coast.
“I definitely needed it,” he said.
“It catches up on you when you’re going flat out for so long. It was good to have a break, relax and not think about racing for once.
“But it was long enough for me to be keen to be getting back into it.”
Mertens rode trackwork on Thursday and is looking forward to beginning his season.
He expects to finish his apprenticeship early and join the senior ranks in the coming weeks having outridden his claim with a year of his apprenticeship remaining.
He said he would probably sit down with his manager and set some short and longer-term goals for this season.
“But obviously in the next couple of weeks I’ll be coming into being a senior and I just think my main goal will be establishing myself as a senior rider and not changing much at all,” he said.
“The papers are getting sorted out now and hopefully they’re done soon enough and I should have that ‘a’ beside my name gone before I know it.”
Mertens said being a natural lightweight rider, he hopes he can pick up some spring carnival opportunities.