Talented apprentice Ben Thompson will get his chance to mix it with the cream of the crop of Melbourne jockeys in a feature race when he rides Manuel in the Group 3 $150,000 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Thompson rides against a host of world class riders in Melbourne every week but he considers it a great accolade to be given a chance to show his wares in a feature Group Race.
“It’s just good to have a Black Type ride for a trainer of Tony McEvoy’s credibility,” Thompson told racing.com.
“His horses are flying and it’s great to get an opportunity for him.
“It’s hard to get any ride in a Black Type race, let alone one at Headquarters.”
Thompson will be replacing Damien Thornton on the Tony McEvoy trained Manuel who is coming off a last start tenth to Bandipur in the Listed $100,000 Lightning Stakes (1050m) at Morphettville on July 29.
The in-form apprentice is still eligible to claim 1.5kg in the Metropolitan area but under the conditions of the Aurie’s Star Handicap will have to ride against the senior jockey on equal terms.
The lightly raced Manuel is only the winner of one race from seven starts but showed that he was well above average with a ten lengths win in 1112m Geelong Maiden on November 13 last year.
Following his maiden win McEvoy took Manuel to Randwick in Sydney where he ran third as favourite behind Calanda and Geneteau in the $250,000 Inglis Sprint (1100m) on December 17.
The Commands colt was then spelled before being prepared for the 2017 Spring Carnival as a four year old.
McEvoy will also saddle his Group 1 winner Hey Doc in the Aurie’s Star Handicap and the Duporth four year old will be having his first run back since finishing sixth to Vega Magic in the Group 1 $1m Darley Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on May 20.
Hey Doc was one of the star three year olds during the 2017 Melbourne Spring Carnival with a win in the Group 1 $750,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington.
Early betting at Ladbrokes.com.au has Hey Doc at $6 for the Aurie’s Star Handicap while Manuel is quoted at double figures at $13.
The Peter and Paul Snowden trained mare Flippant heads the market order at $4.50 ahead of Cannyescent at $5.50 and his stablemate Grande Rosso at $6.50 with Group 1 winner I Am A Star marked as a $7.50 chance.