Beau Mertens has taken most of the limelight in recent months but fellow apprentice and good friend Ben Thompson has given another reminder of his talents at Sandown.
Thompson was the star of the show with three consecutive winners on Wednesday to register the second city treble of his career, while Melbourne premiership leader Mertens failed to ride a winner at the meeting.
Thompson’s wins on Whyouask, Pakaya Prince and Divine Chills took his metropolitan tally for the season in Victoria to 37, third in the apprentices’ standings behind Mertens and Ben Allen.
“You take winners anywhere but it’s great to get a city treble,” Thompson said.
“I’ve had one treble before at Flemington in January but it’s nice to get another one.”
Thompson started out his apprenticeship at the same time as Mertens who has had a breakout season with 68 winners to be leading the Melbourne premiership by one from Craig Williams with seven meetings remaining.
Mertens was unable to take advantage of the suspended Williams’ absence from Wednesday’s meeting but the teenager gets another free hit at extending his lead on Saturday.
Between Mertens, Allen and Thompson, the apprentices have ridden 151 city wins this season.
“Myself and Beau, we rode track work for the first time on the first day,” Thompson said.
“We had our first jump-outs, official trials on the same day and I think I had my first race ride a month before him.
“Obviously myself, Ben Allen and Beau are probably our three biggest rivals but we’re our biggest supporters too.
“It’s good we’re all getting good support. And myself and Ben Allen and all the other apprentices are all cheering for Beau to finish the season on top.”
Allen also got himself on the winner’s list at Sandown aboard the Jamie Edwards-trained mare Kawabata in the Clanbrooke Racing Handicap (2100m).
“I had to get one. I’ve got to keep up with them,” Allen said.
Thompson produced contrasting rides in his three wins, with Whyouask slow into stride early before coming down the outside to score by a half neck in the Chandler Macleod Handicap (1300m).
Pakaya Prince controlled the Spicer Thoroughbreds Handicap (1400m) from the front while Divine Chills sat behind the speed in the Ladbrokes Handicap (1200m) then burst through to win by short half-head.