Melbourne Cup-winning jockey experiences Keeneland while exercising Ward pupils
After his Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint hopeful, Great Attack, breezed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 over the good Keeneland turf course on Thursday, trainer Wesley Ward was asked about the performance. The horseman said he was pleased and that he "wanted to talk to his Melbourne Cup-winning rider."
Aboard Great Attack was Blake Shinn, who rode Viewed to win the 2008 Group 1 Melbourne Cup, Australia's greatest horse race and one of the world's most prestigious racing events. Shinn, 25, has been at Keeneland since October 10, exercising horses for Ward during the first part of his United States visit.
The connection between the Australian jockey and the U.S. trainer is prominent Australian trainer Gai Waterhouse. Ward met Waterhouse in 2009 in England at Royal Ascot, where he saddled two winners. Another meeting came in January 2010 when Ward was in Australia to run Cannonball in a Group 1 race. Waterhouse later visited Ward in Florida to learn how he trains young horses.
Waterhouse emailed Ward about hosting Shinn, who is serving a riding suspension in Australia.
"It's the best thing to be out of one's comfort zone, to see something different and experience new racing delights," Waterhouse wrote on her website, www.gaiwaterhouse.com.au. "I am sure this trip to Kentucky will mature Blake enormously and enhance his racing skills. Good on you, Blake."
Shinn said he has been exercising about five horses every morning for Ward, and he has worked several horses for Jonathan Sheppard, including Angel Terrace, upset winner of the first division of the Grade 3 Valley View on Friday. He said jockey Julio Garcia, who often rides for Ward, "has sort of taken me under his wing," taking him to the Jockeys Quarters and introducing him to other riders while showing him "some little pointers towards riding, which is certainly going to help me moving forward."
Shinn is leaving Keeneland for California on Monday. He will be at Santa Anita with trainer Mike Mitchell until October 28, when he returns home. Shinn will resume riding in Australia on November 1. The Melbourne Cup will be run five days later.
"It's been unbelievable," Shinn said of his Keeneland stay. "I've learned so much. Wesley has given me such a great opportunity to come over here and experience a different side of racing, a different side of training the racehorses. It's been an unbelievable experience. I can't thank him enough."
An afternoon assignment from Ward at Keeneland might be in Shinn's future.
"Hopefully next year I'll be able to come back and ride for him," he said.
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