IN Racing
Sharrock hands Ellerslie debut to leading southern jockey
"He’ll run the trip right out and he has only 52 kilos on his back. I think he’ll beat more home than will beat him home, put it that way.”
Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | March 08, 2024
Southern hoop Kylie Williams will have her first ride at Ellerslie on Saturday aboard Waisake in the Gr.2 Auckland Cup (3200m). Photo: Tayler Strong

A difficult search for a lightweight jockey for Waisake in Saturday’s Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) led Allan Sharrock to look to the south.

Kylie Williams has 919 wins to her name in a decorated career among the South Island’s jockey ranks, but the 44-year-old will be in uncharted territory in Saturday’s $500,000 showpiece. She has never previously ridden at Ellerslie, and it will also be the first time she has ridden for Sharrock.

“It was very tricky to find a suitable jockey at 52kg,” Sharrock said. “Kylie has proven herself over a number of years now – she’s a strong rider and has ridden enough winners in her time. She might find Ellerslie a little bit different to what she’s used to, but I thought she was the best option available to us.”

Waisake is a proven two-miler, winning the Wellington Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) in 2021 and finishing third behind Auckland Cup rivals Mahrajaan and Nest Egg in the New Zealand Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) in November.

The nine-year-old was one of the favourites for the 2024 Wellington Cup in January, but blundered and lost his rider in the early stages of the race. In his two starts since then, he has been doing his best work late when finishing fifth in the New Zealand St Leger Trial (2300m) and sixth in last Saturday’s Nathans Memorial (2200m).

“We know this horse will get two miles,” said Sharrock, who has previously won the Auckland Cup with Shez Sinsational in 2012 and Ladies First in 2018.

“I might have liked him to sprint a little bit quicker at the end of the Nathans, but he was still strong enough through the line. He’ll run the trip right out and he has only 52 kilos on his back. I think he’ll beat more home than will beat him home, put it that way.”

Six years on from Ladies First’s Cup triumph, Sharrock will also be represented at Ellerslie on Saturday by that mare’s half-brother Ladies Man. The six-year-old son of Zed will line up against red-hot favourite Legarto in the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m).

Third over 1400m and fifth in the Gr.1 Otaki-Maori WFA Classic (1600m) in his two lead-up runs, Ladies Man is sure to appreciate the step up to 2000m on Saturday. He has won all of his three previous starts over distances ranging from 2000m to 2100m, including the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) and Gr.3 Trentham Stakes (2100m).

“I was happy with his fifth at Otaki,” Sharrock said. “He’s probably not a horse that’s ever going to be winning over 1600m at weight-for-age, but he found the line nicely and his work since then has been outstanding.

“I think we’re all running for second behind Legarto, but I think he’s in with a pretty decent chance of doing that.

“The 2000m is definitely what he’s been looking for. This is probably his main target race in New Zealand. He has a nomination for the Sydney Cup (Gr.1, 3200m), but we’ll make up our minds after this race whether or not we head in that direction. Brisbane could also be an option for him.”

Sharrock also has four runners entered for Saturday’s supporting meeting at Trentham.

Three-year-old filly Bella Timing kicks off the day in the Graham’s Painters (1000m). She is a half-sister to former stable star Tavi Mac and has had two previous starts for a win and a placing.

Tavi Ann and Sumi go into their respective races as last-start placegetters, while the promising Terra Preta has recorded two wins and two placings from four starts to date and will contest the Adopt A Greyhound @ (1400m).

“I think they’re all very good chances,” Sharrock said. “With an ounce of luck, we could come away with a couple of winners down there.

“Bella Timing is flying and is probably the best of them. But Sumi was very, very good last time too and is stepping up to a distance that it looks like she needs.

“Terra Preta has done nothing wrong so far and should be very competitive again. I thought Tavi Ann found the line well from a position that wasn’t really ideal at Otaki.

“They’re all heading into that meeting with some strong credentials.”