Kiwis join forces for Lucky Tonight's Australian debut Wed, 29 Jun 2016
Lucky Tonight will have a change of rider when he makes his Australian debut on Sunday, but it won't be a jockey who is unfamiliar with the jumper.
The Cambridge seven-year-old will be reunited with expatriate Kiwi hoop Richard Eynon, who will replace Michael Mitchell for a 3800-metre steeplechase at Casterton in Victoria.
“Michael will be riding at Te Aroha, so it’s a bit unfortunate," trainer Shelley Houston said. "But Richard is a lovely rider with nice, soft hands and he has ridden him before, so I don’t think I’m losing anything."
Eynon rode Lucky Tonight in his first hurdle start nearly two years ago when they finished fourth at Ellerslie. The 36-year-old reacquainted himself with the horse in a 2800-metre trial at Warrnambool yesterday and they passed muster after Lucky Tonight had come a cropper in his first trial at Pakenham last week.
“Richard was really pleased with the horse after sitting in third all the way and it was a very good hit-out,” Houston said. “He measured his fences brilliantly and he had a bit of a blow afterwards.
“I think the tempo tripped him up the first time after he had come out of a race and he didn’t have his eye in. He’s usually such a good jumper – I’d trust him with my life.”
Houston said Lucky Tonight was still on track to tackle the Crisp Steeplechase at Warrnambool on August 7 and the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat a fortnight later.
“He’ll have a couple of runs in lesser company first and as long as he goes well then we’ll look at both of them.
“He’s been racing well against Sea King at home, so on that you would think he’s going to fare pretty well over slightly bigger fences here.”
Lucky Tonight made up late ground to finish sixth in the K S Browne Hurdle at Ellerslie before heading to Melbourne.
“He got out of his ground there and he was running on strongly – I’m very happy with him,” Houston said.