Ford revved up for tricky test
JAY Ford is having his best season in more than a decade and says all seven of his rides at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday are capable of helping him continue his winning ways.
Ford has been very consistent with the amount of winners he's ridden in each of the past four seasons, riding between 75 and 83 to victory.
But the metropolitan wins have risen to the level they were 15 years ago and Gerald Ryan's red-hot Albumin is his best chance of notching city win number 34 in the final meeting of the season.
"I've had a good winter and a pretty good year, too," Ford said. "I've been happy with my form of late. Albumin is probably my best ride even though it's the first time he's drawn awkwardly this preparation, so it will be a bit tricky.
"He's in fantastic form and this is no harder than what he's been contesting."
Albumin is shooting for four-straight wins in a Benchmark 90 Handicap (1200m), but he'll have to do it from gate 11 after drawing barriers one or two in his previous three wins.
And he'll have to deal with Eusebio, Souchez, Drachenfels and the stablemate Star Of Monsoon - who is set to start favourite.
"He just needs an ounce of luck," Ford said. "He likes to race on speed but still needs a bit of cover to get him to settle a little bit.
"We saw last start he got a little bit keen mid-race so it will be key to get that little bit of cover early. There looks to be enough speed in the race for us to get a nice cart across.
"He's been running 1200m out very strongly and Gerald's found the key to him this preparation and he's racing very honest."
Ford will partner another Ryan-trained runner in the final event on the card, Vienna Romance, in a Benchmark 83 Handicap (1200m).
She may be rising a class after coming off a last-start midweek city win but that was against Zonk and Seahampton - who went on to win its next start impressively.
Ford has no doubts she's ready to graduate at Saturday level after falling just short last preparation.
"She was very good last start at Canterbury and this is a good race for her," Ford said. "When Seahampton comes out and wins well in Saturday grade you take a bit of heart out of it. I think a month between runs is good for her and she'll stalk a hot speed and she's a strong little filly.
"Her mannerisms have improved, she's mellowed out a bit, is a lot easier to ride and is more adaptable so she's come a fair way in the past year."
The most intriguing runner Ford will partner on Saturday is the Garry Frazer-trained Way We Go in a Benchmark 79 Handicap (1100m).
The half-brother to stablemate and Group 3 winner Spright, Way We Go returns from a three-year break after injuring a tendon. Ford trialled him earlier this month over 904m when third to Show A Star and he looked comfortable in the easy hit out.
"I really liked him in that trial and Garry's always had a big wrap on him because he's possessed a lot of ability from day one," he said. "Off that trial I'd expect him to run very well."
Before the now six-year-old was brought down by injury, Frazer thought he was one of the better horses to walk through his stable and he won two of his first three, all in town, and the win came in Saturday grade.
"It will be interesting to see how he performs on Saturday because Garry has been very upbeat about him," Ford said. "He's related to Spright and he said in the early days when comparing the two he showed as much as Spright did, possibly more."
Ford produced one of the upsets of the day a month ago when piloting Liapari to a storming win in the Civic Stakes (1350m). He doesn't see any reason why he can't reproduce that effort in the Listed Winter Challenge (1500m) given he rises to a more suitable trip.
"He surged to the line last start after getting the race run to suit and he's a strong miler to 2000m horse so that plays into his hands on Saturday," Ford said.
"He'll get back and if he lets down like he did the other day it's a race he can certainly win again."
Ford hasn't ridden Murtarakem and Surjin before but says they're good each-way chances, while Salsa Man attempts to win the final two-year-old race of the season to start the day.
After two unplaced runs in town to start his career, trainer Paul Perry brought the I Am Invincible colt back to the provincials for a kill and he didn't let him down.
He went back to town last start and ran a gallant second to Tarka.
"I think he's a nice horse with a good staying future," he said. "He'll get back a little bit but judging by the way he's been attacking the line he should be very competitive."