Ridler chills out with a puff after victory
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.