Blinkers key in Homesman return
Melbourne jockey Ben Melham knows the strengths and weaknesses of Homesman who makes his return in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick.
Owned by a consortium including Lloyd and Nick Williams, Homesman runs for the first time in Saturday’s 1600m-Group One race for Anthony Freedman.
Now trained at Pinecliff on the Mornington Peninsula, Homesman was previously trained at Lloyd Williams’ private complex at Mount Macedon.
That property is on the market with the Williams-owned horses finding new homes with Freedman and Danny O’Brien who both have training facilities away from the main centres.
Homesman has not raced since running 11th to Lys Gracieux in the Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley in October but showed his fitness with a trial win over 1100m at Werribee on February 18.
Melham has been the principal rider of Homesman since the gelding arrived in Australia after starting out in Ireland with Aidan O’Brien.
He has ridden Homesman in his three Australian wins, including the Group Two Feehan Stakes at The Valley last spring and has chosen to stick with him rather than ride in Melbourne on Saturday.
To prepare for his return, Homesman had a jump-out at Balnarring with Damien Oliver aboard on February 5 before his Werribee trial.
“Trials are probably a new thing to him,” Melham said.
“In his first one he was a bit complacent for Ollie but with the blinkers on at Werribee, they switched him on.
“He’s a real racehorse, especially with those blinkers, he knows what it’s all about and gives 110 per cent.
“He’s obviously had a change of stable but he appears to be healthy and happy and his action seems good.
“He’s a horse that caught us by surprise on a few occasions thinking that he was going to improve with a run under his belt, but he pleasantly surprised us by winning, or just getting beaten, on most occasions first-up.”