Easily Australia’s most successful jockey this season, Craig Newitt has struck a couple of timely blows at Caulfield on Saturday in his bid to win his first Melbourne jockeys’ title.
Newitt rode two of the first three winners to put him two ahead of Luke Nolen after both riders began the day with 65 wins.
Proper Madam gave Newitt his opening success for the day in the Inglis Bonus Hcp (1200m), but it was his victory in the following race aboard Min River that gave him special satisfaction.
Newitt had Min River in the first two or three for the entire 2000m of the Bib Stillwell Hcp and kept the filly going powerfully to the line to score by 1-3/4 lengths from Genuine Spin.
The significance of the win was magnified because he had Nolen behind him in second place on the odds-on favourite.
“It was a bonus, that’s for sure,” Newitt said.
“This is my best season by a long way, but to win the premiership here in Melbourne for the first time would be sensational.”
Nolen struck back on Serene Star to bring the margin back to one.
Newitt has landed 177 winners on all tracks around Australia for the season so far with Queensland-based Chris Munce some 20 wins behind with another Victorian, Brad Rawiller next.
Sydney’s leading rider Hugh Bowman is in fifth place on the national table.
Min River defied her $31 odds to score as she liked after surging clear entering the straight.
Trainer Mick Price said she had failed to handle the slow track at Flemington at her previous start, but oddly enough was at home on the heavy at Caulfield.
“Flemington can be a funny track when it’s wet,” Price said.
“She was in behind them there and trying to go forward but her wheels were spinning.
“Today she was much happier and that’s her right form.”