Ri­dler chills out with a puff af­ter vic­tory

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - DAVID WHITE

FOR the win­ning jockey, it was seem­ingly wa­ter off a duck’s back.

A re­lax­ing cig­a­rette in the shade out­side the jock­eys room was all vet­eran rider Stephen Ri­dler needed.

He had just rid­den Le Com­man­dant to vic­tory yes­ter­day in the Pi­o­neer Sprint, the fea­ture race on Day 5 of the Alice Springs Cup Car­ni­val at Pi­o­neer Park.

De­spite his cool de­meanour, Ri­dler had one more ride in the last aboard the Kym Healy-trained six-year-old geld­ing Swivet.

No doubt he would have cel­e­brated a lot harder at Las­seters Casino last night.

How else would you cel­e­brate vic­tory in a $100,000 race?

It was Ri­dler’s sec­ond vic­tory in the Pi­o­neer Sprint af­ter hav­ing guided the Peter Moody-trained Al Ta­yar to vic­tory in 2004.

That’s the Peter Moody who used to train in Alice Springs be­fore mov­ing to Strathal­byn, not the Peter Moody of Black Caviar fame.

Two days later, back in 2004, Ri­dler went on to win the Alice Springs Cup for the late Nev Con­nor, a won­der­ful trainer who dom­i­nated the Alice Springs and Dar­win land­scape.

The vet­eran hoop is still the only jockey to win the Pi­o­neer Sprint-Alice Springs double.

For Ri­dler to guide Le Com- man­dant to vic­tory for Nev’s son Greg was an in­cred­i­bly spe­cial mo­ment.

“It was a big win, but we had to do a lot of work ear­lier in the race be­cause of the wide bar­rier and with 150m to go we were float­ing about,” Ri­dler said.

“It was only when we had 50m to go that I thought I was go­ing to hang on.

“I had a de­cent car­ni­val in Alice Springs last year rid­ing seven win­ners for Dar­win trainer Dick Leech.

“Dick didn’t send many horses to Alice this year as he is pre­par­ing them for the Dar­win Car­ni­val.”

Barry Hup­patz, 51, guided Su­per Bryan home in sec­ond place, while Paul Den­ton, 53, wound up in third place on King’s Par­don.

With Ri­dler a sprightly 57 years young, it meant that the first three jock­eys across the line in the Pi­o­neer Sprint were a com­bined age of 161 years.

Win­ning trainer Greg Con­nor said Le Com­man­dant was meant to run in Ade­laide ear­lier in the year be­fore suf­fer­ing a stone bruise.

“When we couldn’t take him to Ade­laide, we started plan­ning Le Com­man­dant for the Pi­o­neer Sprint,” Con­nor said.

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