Nash Rawiller made his name as a big-race rider in Australia but will be out to break a Group One drought stretching back nearly three years on Secret Weapon and Blizzard in Sunday’s features at Sha Tin.
Rawiller has 59 Group One wins to his name but hasn’t won at the top level since Japanese mare Hana’s Goal won the All Aged Stakes at Randwick in April 2014, a month in which where the then Australian-based heavyweight captured a remarkable five Group Ones.
The 41-year-old has now firmly established himself in Hong Kong after a slow start, sitting fourth in the jockeys’ championship with 29 wins, but a win at the top level has thus far eluded him.
“It’s been a long wait, and I guess that is what is still missing from the resume here,” Rawiller said. “There’s nothing I want more than to win one of these big ones.”
Rawiller said he is taking a forgive and forget attitude with Dennis Yip Chor-hong’s giant-slaying gelding Secret Weapon with respect to a disappointing last start display in the group One Stewards’ Cup.
Secret Weapon now contests the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup over 2,000m, a distance at which the seven-year-old beat domestic rivals at two starts back in the Group Two Jockey Club Cup before finishing second to Japanese champion Maurice in the Group One Hong Kong Cup.
“I’ve just put a line through that last run at a mile, forget about it and concentrate on Sunday,” he said. “He was slightly disappointing but this race has been his major goal since international day.”
Rawiller has ridden Secret Weapon in three key pieces of work since the Stewards’ Cup, including a searching turf gallop on Tuesday capped by a final 400m split of 22.4 seconds.
“He had a really good blow after that work, and that was OK for him, he is never a flash worker. But then when I rode him again on Friday, I was amazed at how much that piece of work brought him on fitness-wise,” Rawiller said. “I think that work has put him right back on track and he is back to where he was before.”
Earlier in the day Rawiller jumps aboard Blizzard in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup after having to knock back the ride on the tough gelding in the Group Two Centenary Sprint Cup when he couldn’t make the weight.
Blizzard was out-sprinted over 1,200m on that occasion but back up to 1,400m, a distance at which the five-year-old has won his last two, Rawiller feels like he is in with a knockout hope against some higher-rated rivals.
“He has done everything right lately, is working nicely and he just needs one of these big races to fall into place for him,” he said.
“Some of these big races he has been in have been a bit tactical, they haven’t gone too fast and it hasn’t suited his racing style. He has a good draw, so he might just find himself naturally a bit closer in the run and get to make his own luck a little bit.”