Top young jockey Harry Coffey has jumped to the top of the queue to ride Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance when he kicks off his Spring Carnival campaign in the Group 1 $500,000 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 27.
Regular rider Michelle Payne has been overlooked for the ride on the Darren Weir trained stayer as she returns to the saddle after recovering from injuries from a nasty fall at Mildura in May.
Payne made history when she became the first female jockey to win the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival on $101 shot Prince Of Penzance and has just been given the all clear to return to the saddle following pancreatic surgery.
But connections of the Melbourne Cup winner feared that Payne would not be fully fit in time for the Memsie Stakes and informed her that they would be engaging another rider.
Coffey is an emerging young rider who does a lot of work for the Weir stable and got a feel of Prince Of Penzance in a jump out at Mortlake this morning.
“He is one of the good chances to ride him in the Memsie Stakes,” Weir told the Herald Sun.
Prince Of Penzance has had one run since winning Australia’s most famous race and with Payne in the saddle the then six year old ran a great race to run second to stablemate Tonopah in the Group 3 $150,000 Robert & Fay Gerard R A Lee Stakes (1600m) at Morphettville on May 21.
Weir took several of his Spring Carnival contenders to Mortlake for the jump outs with Black Heat Bart, Tosen Stardom, Raw Impulse and Master Zephyr all matching strides with Prince Penzance.
Coffey has already been booked to ride one of Weir’s other tough stayers Signoff in the Melbourne Cup and the seven year old is set to resume for the Spring in the Listed $100,000 Penny Edition Stakes (1400m) at Morphettville Parks on Saturday.
Coffey has already ridden Signoff on three occasions but their first outing together ended up in disappointment after the gelding was first past the post Listed $120,000 Lord Stakes (1700m) at Caulfield on December 26 last year but was later disqualified after testing positive to the banned substance Ibuprofen.
Signoff had been treated with Ibuprofen to help with the recovery of a tendon injury suffered when fourth to Protectionist in the 2014 Melbourne Cup and it was subsequently discovered that the drug stays in the horse’s system longer that originally thought.
The Authorized gelding was then off the scene again for another eight weeks before running second to Swacadelic in the Listed $150,000 Sporting Chance Cancer Foundatio0n Torney Night Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley on February 19 with Coffey back in the saddle.
Coffey and Signoff them teamed up again two weeks later to record a six and a half lengths win in the Group 3 $120,000 James Boag’s Premium Lord Reims Stakes (2600m) at Morphettville on March 5.
In early Melbourne Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Signoff is listed at $17 while Prince Of Penzance is marked as a $31 chance to defend his Melbourne Cup crown.
The Aidan O’Brien trained Order Of St George sits at the top of the market order at $11.