IRISH-born jumps jockey Patrick Flood will create racing history if he can win on the Gai Waterhouse-trained Valediction in the maiden hurdle over 3226 metres at Warrnambool today.
Valediction is the first horse Waterhouse has run over obstacles since gaining her jumps licence a year ago.
The six-year-old is ready to win the race for the champion trainer after he won hurdle trials at Camperdown and Warrnambool over the past few weeks.
Flood, who has ridden more than 300 international race winners including an Irish Grand National Steeplechase, said he had struggled for riding opportunities last jumping season but things had turned around this season.
“I was really struggling last year. To win with Gai would mean a huge amount,” he said.
“I’ve packed up my life to come here and to be associated with such a superstar as Gai and to put a bit of history in the books with her would be fantastic. When you going from ringing people and leaving them voicemails and they’re not ringing you back, to jumping over one of Gai’s — I’m hugely excited.
“She has such a great reputation in Europe. I can remember being a kid and knowing who Gai Waterhouse was, it’s not like she’s just big here — she’s big all over the world.
“It’s a very exciting time for me and I’m buzzing about it. I’m trying not to think too far ahead about. I’m really trying to take it one step at a time and make sure every detail is worked out perfectly.”
Flood will team with Valediction for the first time today but is confident in his assessment of the six-year-old’s chances in the race.
“I’ve sat on him at Flemington and popped him over the hurdles there and he feels very good,” he said.
“Eric Musgrove had him for three or four weeks so you know he’s going to be able to jump. On his Moonee Valley run he looks very talented. As it stands he’s fit and he’s well. All going good he should just win.”
Waterhouse, who has three jumpers in work at her Flemington stables including the group one winner Glencadum Gold, said she was excited with Valediction before his run in the $20,000 race.
“He’s won two hurdle trials the first at Camperdown and the other at Warrnambool and followed up those efforts with a win on the flat at Moonee Valley,” she said.
“I’ve got to thank Eric Musgrove he put a lot of time and effort into educating Valediction for jumping. It’s an exciting day. We’re expecting the horse to run well.”
The maiden hurdle race is one of three jumps races on the eight-race card at Warrnambool.
The other jumps races are a restricted hurdle and a restricted steeplechase. Highlights on the flat are two benchmark 70 races — the first over 2044 metres and the other 1200 metres. Both carry stakemoney of $30,000.