The pre-race words of Chris Waller must have been ringing in the ears of apprentice jockey Rory Hutchings as the young Kiwi expertly steered promising four-year-old Harlem Lady to a swooping victory at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
Waller told Hutchings “the next three months are the most important of your career” approximately an hour before Harlem Lady evoked a comparison, albeit a tenuous one, to high profile stablemate Winx with a last-to-first effort in the familiar royal blue Magic Bloodstock silks.
Favourite backers were entitled to feel concerned when Harlem Lady ($3.30) was still travelling last on the home corner but Hutchings ensured a clear passage down the outside of the track which ended in a 1-1/4 length triumph.
Steven O’Brien’s Rose’s Song ($20) finished second, half a length clear of the Graeme Shultz-trained Marmaduke’s Lady ($9.50) in third.
Following their feature race success in last Saturday’s Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) with Amovatio, Waller believes now is the time for Hutchings to establish a foothold in the Sydney jockey ranks.
“He’ll make the grade, as you saw last Saturday, he’s a really good rider, he just needs a bit of polish and he’s putting it all together now,” Waller said.
“Everyone knows he can ride and these three months will tell everyone where he’s going to ride and I think he can make it here.
“I think the punters would have been a bit worried turning for home but he took the percentages out and got clear running for her and she did the rest – it was a smart ride.”
Hutchings’ latest win means he is only five wins away from outriding his claim before he becomes a fully-fledged jockey on June 14.
And with the majority of Sydney’s top echelon riders plying their trade in Queensland over the coming weeks, Hutchings will be afforded every opportunity to achieve the feat.
As for Harlem Lady, Waller said he will take a gradual approach with the four-year-old daughter of Zabeel.
“She’s been very backward and taken a lot of time but she’s a promising mare,” Waller said.
“She’s turning five in a few months but being by Zabeel she’s only turning three really.
“I don’t think she’s a Zabeel that needs to be stepped up too far in distance, we can just keep her fresh.
“The beauty of a Zabeel is you don’t know what you’ve got until they’re fully matured so there looks to be exciting times ahead.” – Sporting News