Neil Callan says a drop in grade and a low draw brings Mighty Maverick into play this Saturday in the Chan Trophy (1,400m).
“That’s the key, dropping back in grade,” the Irish jockey said, with the Derek Cruz-trained five-year-old set to carry 133 pounds in the final race of the day.
While Mighty Maverick’s record of two wins from 20 starts for Cruz doesn’t look great on paper, when in Class Three the gelding has fared much better.
Both of Mighty Maverick’s wins have been in the grade and he has a two from five record over 1,400m when in Class Three.
Callan was aboard for Mighty Maverick’s first win back in March 2016, and said the gelding’s three-quarter length victory when last in Class Three five starts back was a better guide to the horse’s chances.
“There can be a bit of a gap between Class Three and Class Two, and even though he has ran a couple of good races up in class, he looks a lot more comfortable in Class Three,” he said.
Even if Mighty Maverick can’t make an impression, he still holds out some hope that the horse will thrive across at Happy Valley.
“He will definitely win another race before the end of the season, and I think the 1,650m over there will really suit him,” he said. “He won’t get a mile at the bigger track, he looks a bit flat there.”
Callan has 38 wins this term to sit in third place in the jockeys’ championship, behind just Joao Moreira (146 wins) and Zac Purton (81 wins).
While Mighty Maverick might need some luck he believes Merrygowin could be his best chance in the Cheung Cup (Class Four, 1,400m).
Merrygowin won his way to the top of Class Four back in February with a narrow decision over Vital Spring.
The gelding has since ran two great races up at 1,400m, finishing third both times, and Callan says those two starts have been against superior opposition to Saturday’s test.
“It’s a weak field,” said Callan, who was aboard Merrygowin last start. “He is still a bit green, that’s why he wears the blinkers, they spark him up a bit and he needs them because he races a bit stupid still. But he has a good draw and that will help him. The horse still has a lot of upside I think and in the long run he really looks like he is better than Class Four.”
Callan is also looking forward to reuniting with California Whip in the four-year-old’s clash with Tony Cruz-trained stablemate Winner’s Way in the Class One of the day.
“Winner’s Way looks the one to beat but my fella is getting plenty of weight off him, so that makes it very interesting,” Callan said, with California Whip to carry seven pounds more than his rival after Callan claims one pound over.
California Whip was an impressive winner on the dirt earlier this season and bounced back into form last start after some disappointing displays.
Callan replaces injured jockey Matthew Chadwick after California Whip was beaten a nose by Midnight Rattler last time out.
Meanwhile, South African young gun Callan Murray will ride at Sha Tin on Sunday, May 21 with the Jockey Club licensing committee to consider an application to ride through until the end of the season.
Murray joined the senior ranks earlier this year and rode three Grade One winners at Turffontein last weekend.