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Apprentice Chris Parnham has got the call-up to ride Group One winner Smokin’ Joey in the Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley.

Ben Melham has ridden Smokin’ Joey in his past eight starts since winning the Group One Goodwood in Adelaide on the gelding last May.

But trainer Wez Hunter said Melham was committed to the Peter Moody-trained Dissident in Saturday’s Group Two 1200m feature so he has called on the star West Australian apprentice.

Parnham is on loan to Hunter to try his luck in Victorian racing.

He is on the verge of a significant milestone in his career, needing just one city win to outride his claim.

Parnham has ridden 78 metropolitan winners in WA and claimed a stakes win in Melbourne aboard the Leon and Troy Corstens-trained Tried And Tired in the Listed Christmas Stakes at Sandown on Boxing Day.

“He’s over here pretty much as a senior jockey and he’s a gun,” Hunter said.

“He’s riding Joey on Saturday.”

Hunter invited Parnham to come to Victoria and ride work for his stable for a week last month when the apprentice was serving a careless riding suspension.

When the ban finished, Parnham rode a winner for the stable at Bendigo on December 21.

Hunter said he was more than happy to have Parnham aboard Smokin’ Joey in Saturday’s weight-for-age race even though he cannot use his claim.

There were 10 initial nominations for the Australia Stakes on Monday with Moody nominating both Dissident and Moment Of Change.

Entries have been extended until Tuesday.

Nominations include the first three across the line last year – Richie’s Vibe, Moment Of Change and It Is Written.

Smokin’ Joey has had a let-up since campaigning in Perth where he finished fourth in the Group One Railway Stakes in November and fourth in the Group One Kingston Town Stakes on December 6.

“He had three weeks in the paddock and he freshened up really well,” Hunter said.

“Obviously he is coming back from 1800 metres to 1200 so we haven’t had to do a lot with him but he’s in good order.”

Hunter said the CF Orr Stakes and maybe the Blamey Stakes were targets this campaign.

A defence of the Group One Goodwood (1200m) is also possible in May depending on his form.

 
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