Luke Dittman does a lot of riding for Chris Waller behind the scenes, often for a higher-profile hoop to take over, but this time has a shot at winning a Group after a call-up from the boss.
Source: News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom, by Trenton Akers
Luke Dittman was credited as the man behind the scenes in Kukeracha’s last-gasp Queensland Derby win last week and now the son of a gun gets his own chance for master trainer Chris Waller in the Queensland Oaks on Saturday.
The son of legendary Mick Dittman, Luke rides a huge number of Waller’s Queensland-based horses in trackwork each week, but often finds himself bumped for big-name southern riders when it comes to grand final day.
With Waller saddling up six runners in Saturday’s Group 1 Queensland Oaks, Dittman got the call up to ride Easifar who he has ridden in her last three starts.
“He (Waller) has got six in the race and they are always a chance,” Dittman said with Easifar rated a $16 chance with TAB.
“I was a bit dirty she didn’t draw an alley (10) but it is what it is and we have to make the best of it. I think she is capable of winning an Oaks, she just needs a bit of luck in the run.
“Just having his name next to the horses, you know they are going to be a decent chance and you can see that with three or so of them in the top six of the market. He took out the Derby last week and a lot of the Group 1 races throughout the year.
“Just because my filly isn’t the favourite, it doesn’t mean she can’t win – she worked brilliantly on Tuesday so I can’t knock her at all going into it.”
Champion Sydney jockey James McDonald was quick to praise Dittman for his work in the mornings aboard Kukeracha a week ago and while he would of loved to be in the saddle himself, the 29-year-old understands what goes on behind the scenes.
“I rode (Kukeracha) in all of his lead-up races and I galloped him on the Tuesday before the Derby and I said to James ‘I think you’ll be hard to beat in the Derby, they’re only worried about getting 2400m’ – where I was quietly confident he would get it,” he said.
“Obviously I would have loved to of been on him but that’s the way the cards fall and I am happy for Chris, James who’s my best mate and Nev (Morgan) is a legend of an owner.”
Dittman has a strong connection with Waller’s Gold Coast stable, saying he rides the large majority of his horses stabled there.
“He usually requires us there one or two days a week. I would do most of the gallops on a Saturday. To be quite honest, if he rang me and said I need to be there six days a week, I would,” he said.
“He has got his own team and the way they like to do things but I am heavily involved in the lead up to their races.
“I ride pretty much 99 per cent of them in their trials before they go to the races, the only ones I don’t get to see are the ones that come up from Sydney but their form is usually pretty exposed and it’s proven they’re hard to beat.”