Jockey Ronnie Stewart is a highly capable of bringing a long-priced winner home. He has showed that on countless occasions … and he outdid himself in that regard on Saturday when piloting the Peter Robl trained $101 chance Alison Of Tuffy to victory by the narrowest of margins in a pressurised finish.
But being on the longer priced runners for the most part is not an easy gig, as Stewart explains.
“I am riding freelance and, at the moment, it is tough being a freelance rider in Brisbane.
“There are a lot of riders to go around and not being attached to a stable makes it difficult. Previously, I wasn’t attached to any stable as such, but I was riding for certain stables regularly, but it’s more difficult to hold those spots now.
“Also, the spots are all sort of taken at the moment with your major trainers so, as a rider, you just have to pick up what you can pick up.
“I’ve had a few winners lately which always helps, but you know you have to follow that up and you have to try to keep finding rides which give you a chance to do that which, as I say as a freelance rider, is not always easy.
“Winners open doors … so it is all about being patient and creating connections. One thing leads to another in this game and, as much as it is tough now, it can change pretty quickly too.
You just never know. If Peter Robl sends another horse up, hopefully I might get to ride it … or if he or any of Saturday’s winning connections tell other people about the win and other Sydney horses come up, I might get a chance on some of them.
“You have just got to keep working at it.”
And what about the win on Saturday … and what about that price?
“I got the ride through my manager,” said Stewart. “I used to ride with Peter Robl years ago and then I was in Asia when he started training.
“It was my first ride for him. He was good. I spoke to him before the race. He, being a jockey himself, came across as being pretty easy to ride for.
“He just said to make sure to the horse quite hard out of the gate … otherwise it would just flop out. He said if you find yourself three deep, with a bit of cover that was fine … and the same if I had to work a bit more, or not … a length further forward or a length further back. He said, you sort it out. You know what you are doing.
“He did also say … look, I know the price she is, but he said I think she is a good chance in the race. He said if you took out the Godolphin horse (Exhilarates) it brought our horse right into it … without getting carried away. He said he expected her to run a good race.
“She was pretty strong to the line I thought. On the line I wasn’t sure whether Robbie (Fradd, riding Maozi) had got me or not … only because the rain made it harder to tell. But it was a tough effort.
“It shows that occasionally the bookies get it wrong like they did on Saturday.”
For the record, in her previous seven starts this season going into Saturday’s race, Alison Of Tuffy had only finished more than 3.50 lengths back on one occasion in seven starts over distances ranging from 1100m to 1400m. Easy to be wise afterwards, but really that form did not realistically translate into a $100 chance on the betting boards.
When the dust had settled though, Alison Of Tuffy had given Ronnie Stewart another long-priced winner.
As Stewart said … winners open doors.
Certainly, his skill and riding expertise are arguably well worthy of receiving better opportunities in general than is the case for the rider at the moment, but it is such a competitive world in the Brisbane riding ranks you have to earn your progress each step of the way.
Stewart is doing that … and you can’t give a bigger reminder that you are still very much in the game, freelance or not, than by upstaging everyone else on a $100 chance.