Victorian omen for Ken Howard Cup

FRESH from a top-10 finish on the trainer’s premiership in his first full season since settling in Coffs Harbour, trainer Jim Jarvis is targeting today’s Ken Howard Cup to kick-start the 2010-11 contest in style.

With the meeting now transferred from Coffs to Grafton, Jarvis will saddle up Jagoe Road in the 2106m feature with champion Melbourne rider Danny Nikolic aboard.

“The horse is back to his right distance and hopefully he’ll give the stable a great start to the new season,” Jarvis said.

“With 58kg on his back they’ve certainly weighted him as a good horse, but Danny will ride him well from the seven gate.

“An ex-Victorian trainer with an ex-Victorian horse ridden by a Victorian jockey might be the omen bet of the day.”

Nikolic last rode for the trainer three years ago in Canberra and Jarvis recalled the jockey spent a short time in Coffs Harbour during the early-1990s when first out of his apprenticeship.

“It wasn’t for long ... probably no more than a month or six weeks ... but the late Mal Gerrard gave Danny a start when he was trying to make it as a senior jockey,” he revealed.

“The kid was a bit of a tearaway, but he got his act together and went back south, knuckled down to the job and the rest is history.

“His brother Tommy rode a lot for me before he got too heavy, and I know the family well.

“So when Alan Johnson asked if I had any rides for him I was pleased to put him on Jagoe Road.”

Jarvis will start three candidates today with a further five in at Coffs tomorrow, including Mr Gold Fire in the VB Gold Cup.

And he’s very proud of the high placing on the Northern Rivers Racing Association trainer’s premiership.

“Well, I’m very happy with that,” he said, when told those 14 winners had placed him seventh on the table behind Brett Bellamy.

“With two winners in Queensland and a couple at other places around the state it made a total of 25 for the year which was great for the first full season.

“Might have been even more but for a couple of horses going wrong, but there are some good ones in the yard and I’ve got high hopes for the next 12 months.”

Stable pet Mr Gold Fire has drawn barrier 10 in tomorrow’s big race, and Sydney jockey James Innes has been imported for the ride.

“The horse picked up a stone bruise which caused a minor setback, but it’s worked out fine in the end,” Jarvis added.

“With the sting out of the track and the race over the mile the old bloke will be suited right down to the ground at this stage of his last preparation.”

Adding sparkle to the Cup Day program is the announcement Sydney’s newly-crowned champion apprentice jockey Tommy Berry will be riding against boom rival Blake Spriggs.

Robert Thompson, rider of more winners than any other jockey in Australian history, will also make an appearance opposed to Takeover Target’s race partner, Jay Ford.

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