Top Perth apprentice Chris Parnham will take the ride on Group 1 winner Smokin’ Joey in the Group 2 $200,000 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Parnham is on loan to Smokin’ Joey’s trainer Wez Hunter and the Mornington trainer gave the young jockey the nod after regular rider Ben Melham was committed to ride the Peter Moody trained Dissident in the Australia Stakes.
“There was only ten noms and Ben’s got two horses in there that he’s won Group 1s on so he is riding Dissident and Chris Parnham is going to ride Joey,” Hunter told Racing Ahead.
“He’s over here pretty much as a senior jockey and he’s a gun.”
Melham was aboard Smokin’ Joey when he won the 2014 Group 1 $500,000 The Tapestry Wines Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville in May and also steered Dissident to a Group 1 winning double in the Spring in the $400,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield and in the 400,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.
Parnham has created quite an impression riding back in his home city in Western Australia but decided to test the waters in the eastern states.
The young jockey first ventured to Melbourne at Christmas time when he rode a stakes winner for Leon and Troy Corstens when he steered Tried And Tired to victory in the Listed $120,000 Jackie Loughlin Christmas Stakes (1200m) at Sandown on December 26.
He then returned to the west to ride at the Perth Cup meeting at Ascot on New Year’s Day before returning to team up again with Hunter at Mornington.
Hunter has gained a big opinion of the youngster since he has been at his stables and even though he still has one more win before he out rides his claim, the trainer is prepared to let him show his skills in the weight for age sprint.
“He has only had a couple of rides for me. He won on Parcel on debut, he rides a bit of work here,” Hunter said.
“His record is very good. He has only been riding about two years and he has ridden one hundred and fifty winners or something.”
“His dad puts him on all the Group 1 races over there and I didn’t hesitate putting him on. He has real future.”
Hunter said that Smokin’ Joey has freshened up nicely since running fourth to Moriarty in the Group 1 $500,000 TAB Touch – Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on December 6 and will head to the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 14 after the Australia Stakes
“He’s fit and ready to go. A wise old trainer once told me that residual fitness on fresh legs is the best combination so that’s what he has got, see how he goes,” Hunter said.
“He had three weeks in the paddock and we are actually training him from a paddock now. He is an old horse that just needs a bit of change in his life so with the nice weather he lives outside and seems to really appreciate that.”