Brenton Avdulla more than happy with second if Sydney success continues

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Shooting for second: Jockey Brenton Avdulla is hoping for a strong end to the jockeys’ premiership race. Photo: bradleyphotos老域名出售备案老域名Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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Second is the first loser, right? Try telling that to Brenton Avdulla.

As the saying goes, no-one is supposed to remember the runner-up. Avdulla will remember it for a lifetime if he can sneak silver in the metropolitan riding premiership.

“If I get second it would be nearly like winning it,” laughed Avdulla, whose powerful book of rides at Rosehill on Saturday can see him climb the jockey standings yet again. “But finishing in the top five or six where I am now is where I want to be.”

But who says he can’t be second? James McDonald (87.5) could put away his saddle and stick now and still have his name engraved on the honour roll in three months’ time.

The globetrotting Hugh Bowman (57) will be idle for a while on those Sydney standings, Blake Shinn’s (48.5) mind is likely to be chasing feature races elsewhere. And Avdulla? He should have a free pass to stitch up the best rides in Sydney – should he want them – and finish in a lofty premiership position he has never scaled.

“I can’t compete with Hughie and Macca – they just get too much support – and the reality is I just have to try to finish third our fourth again,” Avdulla shrugged.

“Wherever the opportunities are I will be and I won’t be handing up group 1 rides [in Brisbane]. The calibre of my book this Saturday proves I’m getting the rides in Sydney and I don’t really need to be going anywhere else.

“It would be nice to win the NSW premiership [Avdulla leads comfortably from McDonald] and I’m getting the opportunities in Sydney. I’m not going to be throwing that away to chase a little bit of black type in Queensland.”

A quick scan through Avdulla’s Sydney cast at Rosehill is reason enough to show why hit-and-run missions to Queensland aren’t exactly a top priority.

Godolphin’s Havana Cooler is jostling for favouritism in the listed Lord Mayors Cup. The country’s leading group 1 trainer Chris Waller will gift Avdulla five winning chances while emerging types for Kris Lees and Matt Dale are also on the hitlist.

“My confidence is one thing [that has improved] and I feel my riding has gone to a new level – just staying positive and trying to be confident – and the opportunities have happened,” Avdulla said. “When you have the support of your Chris Wallers, Team Godolphin … you’re a lot more confident and happy to ride for them.

“It makes my job easy, trust me. You can put them in the right places and they find for you. I’ve worked very hard over the last 12 months to get here.”

Havana Cooler is a horse which has also come a long way in 12 months, rocketing into group 1 calculations during the Queensland winter after a slashing first-up win in the Doncaster Prelude.

He shapes as another horse Godolphin head trainer John O’Shea will need to mould into a topliner. One of the in-betweeners. More than good enough for group level, but capable of winning a major?

“He’s drawn the car park and his two runs back have been good,” Avdulla said. “First-up he won the Doncaster Prelude and three weeks between runs I thought he ran really well against Guardini who looks pretty promising and he wasn’t beaten far.

“I think it’s a nice race for him and he’s won at the mile-and-a-half. I just thought third-up over 2000 [metres] looks really suitable for him.”

Waller’s Lady Le Fay was a $3.60 favourite with Ladbrokes on Thursday, just shading Havana Cooler ($4.60) in early markets. Index Linked ($9), Messene ($9.50) and Weary ($9.50) were all vying for third favouritism.

While Waller undoubtedly boasts a strong hand in the Lord Mayors Cup, he would perhaps be most pleased to see staying filly Chandana improve in the Rosehill fourth, a key pointer for the upcoming staying classics in Queensland. She might be one Avdulla will follow north.

“Chandana is probably on a Queensland Oaks path and her two runs back have been good,” Avdulla said. “She has drawn wide, but she can run well.”

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