The three-day Warrnambool carnival is an annual pilgrimage for many.
The majority of the 30 races are on the flat but it’s the jumps races that attract the most interest.
The carnival begins on Tuesday with three maiden hurdles and the feature Brierly Steeplechase with two jumps races scheduled for Wednesday and again on Thursday.
Champion jumps jockey Steven Pateman can’t wait for the action to start and will have rides in three of the four races on the first day.
Pateman heads to Ireland at the end of the jumps season to ride work for champion trainer Willie Mullins and would like nothing better than to be rewarded with a position in the stable.
“Even if I was lucky enough to go well in Ireland and stay there, I’d want to come back for Warrnambool,” Pateman said.
Pateman has had previous weight battles and now admits to doing things a lot smarter.
His four rides on Tuesday are all at 68kg, a weight that won’t pressure him.
He can ride comfortably at 67kg, can get to 66.5kg, and if a really good ride comes along he can push himself to ride at 66kg.
“As I’ve got older I’ve got a bit smarter with the decision on which horse I’ll ride,” Pateman said.
“If there’s two horses of similar ability and one has a bigger weight, I’ll ride that one.
“In the past I’ve gone with the lighter one and not been able to make it and you shoot yourself in the foot.
“I used to think people would think less of me if not riding the lighter one, but they think less of you if you don’t make the weight.”
Pateman has won all three feature jumps races over the Warrnambool carnival, the Brierly, the Galleywood Hurdle and the big one, the Grand Annual Steeplechase, on two occasions.
With his weight now under control, Pateman hopes to ride until he’s 40 while his body is in good shape.
“Touch wood I’ve never had any bad injuries, just a struggle with my weight a bit but I feel more confident when I’m riding these days,” he said.