Local trainer Mike Petrovic is more than happy having veteran Canberra jockey Kevin Sweeney aboard Avala, who resumes at Queanbeyan on Tuesday.
“A lot of young apprentices seem to go off the rails theses days. They should take a leaf out of Kevin’s book,” Petrovic said.
“He’s still dedicated and riding as well as ever.
“He’s on fire. He gets along good with Avala. Over the years I’ve had a lot of luck with Kevin.
“I couldn’t be happier having him aboard.
Avala resumes from a 142-day break in the Peter Flood Plumbing Class 3 Handicap (900m).
Interestingly, the five-year-old Nothing Leica Dane gelding’s only win in 13 starts came first-up last campaign over 1100m on his home track.
“He’s a lightly-framed horse, a late maturer,” Petrovic said.
“He’s been back in work about nine weeks and working along well.
“Now he’s an older horse I’m hoping he handles racing better.
“He used to get stressed out, stirred up, in the enclosure before racing. He appears to have settled down.”
Petrovic races Avala with Canberra solicitor Craig Edwards and Anthony Georgopoulos, who used to work for the trainer.
While tried up to 1600m, Petrovic is confident Avala can sprint well fresh.
“It’s been smooth sailing this preparation, no hiccups,” Petrovic said.
“I haven’t given him a jump out, he’s pretty clean winded.
“On the track he’s had a fair bit of work, enough to have him ready first-up.”
Avala will carry 55kg from barrier nine.
“He’s got enough early pace to be up in the firing line early, hopefully in the first three or four,” Petrovic said.
“Avala, like me, likes his home track. I think he can run very well, bring in some dollars for us.”
Petrovic will also saddle up new stable acquisition Kariz in the Linray Finance Benchmark 50 Handicap (1100m).
Secured as a future broodmare, the four-time winner will be ridden by fledgling apprentice, Nicole Vuille.
The barrier’s (16) a problem and I’m still trying to work out the horse but I think she can run a nice race,” Petrovic said.