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Ben Thompson will ride Booker in the Newmarket Handicap

Riding light and being proactive has given apprentice Ben Thompson with another chance to land a break through Group One win in the Newmarket Handicap.

Thompson rides Booker at 50kg in Saturday’s $1.25 million feature sprint at Flemington having finished fourth in his first ride on the three-year-old filly last start in the Group One Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield.

“She ran super that day and proved herself at Group One level,” Thompson said.

“Hopefully we can have a bit more luck on Saturday.

“It’s all hypothetical, but if she had a bit more go her way in the Oakleigh Plate or if she could have drawn a better barrier it could have been a different result.

“I’m looking forward to having another go on her on Saturday and with only 50 kilos she’s not going to know herself.”

A natural lightweight rider, Thompson said he was lucky that getting to 50kg was not an issue for him.

The Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra-trained Booker carried 51.5kg in the Oakleigh Plate when beaten less than a half-length.

Thompson sensed an opportunity to get on Booker after the filly won the Kevin Hayes Stakes on February 10 with Dwayne Dunn aboard.

“As soon as I got in the car after the races that day I called Mat Ellerton straight away,” Thompson said.

“I was walking the track after she won the Kevin Hayes and I heard him say in the interview she may head to the Oakleigh Plate and have no weight on her back.

“I pricked my ears. You never know unless you ask and the worst thing that could happen was he would could say no.

“I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to ride her if she was heading to the Oakleigh Plate, which she did, and I’m lucky enough to have been able to stick with her for the Newmarket.”

Booker was at $9 on Wednesday and along with Catchy will be striving to become the first three-year-old filly since Alinghi (2005) to win the Newmarket.

Thompson, 21, has already outridden his claim and while his apprenticeship is not due to finish until June, he is in the process of applying to make an early entry into the senior jockeys’ ranks.

 
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