CHAMPION jockey Craig Williams will partner classy Warrnambool mare Spirit Song as she attempts to win back-to-back $150,000 Schweppervescence Stakes at Flemington today.
Williams has picked up the ride on Spirit Song in the 1600-metre group 3 race following the suspension of regular jockey Brad Rawiller.
Trainer Aaron Purcell said Williams’ manager Mark Guest phoned up for the ride on the five-year-old last Monday.
“It’s bad luck that Brad will not be riding her but we’re over the moon that Craig will be riding her,” Purcell said.
“Craig has ridden her before, he knows how to ride her. She’s done really well since her first-up run at Caulfield.
“She had no luck at Caulfield. Brad had to ride her for luck in the run at Caulfield but the luck never came in the race.
“She’s done a treat since that race.
“I’m expecting her to run really well — we just want a bit of luck in the run.”
Purcell will use today’s race as a lead into the $220,000 group 2 Sunline Stakes at Moonee Valley on March 22. The talented mare won the Sunline last year.
“She won the Schweppervescence and the Sunline Stakes last year,” he said. “I think she’s going as good this year as she did last year.
“She’s a remarkable mare. Mares don’t usually keep on coming up as they get older but she has kept on improving.
“We’ve won six races with her from 15 starts. When we got her she was graded at 62, now she’s got a grading of 105.”
The trainer has a long range plan of running Spirit Song in the $2 million group 1 Doncaster Handicap at Randwick over 1600 metres on April 20.
“We’ve entered her for the Doncaster but we will be taking it one run at a time,” Purcell said.
“It would be great if she could run in the Doncaster but her form must warrant making the trip up to Sydney.”
Spirit Song is rated a 7-1 chance in prepost TAB markets to win today’s race.