LEADING in winners is what strappers love to do, but when it's a Group 1 victory it's even more special – just ask former Warrnambool student Darcy Chandler.
Chandler tasted the air at the top of the mountain when he led Shillelagh into the winners’ circle for top trainer Chris Waller, after she won the $1 million Group 1 Kennedy Mile on November 4, the opening day of the Flemington carnival.
The 20-year-old, son of Warrnambool's leading horse breaker Colin Chandler, said it was a massive thrill to be in the circle after Shillelagh’s win.
“It was a great day,” Chandler said.
“I’ve been lucky to have led winners in before, but to be the strapper of a group 1 winner was an amazing feeling. Shillelagh is a very good mare. We thought she would run well.
“I've been working for Chris Waller for three months. I start at 3.30am and finish at 10am.
“It's been a wonderful experience. They have more than 30 horses in work at Flemington, so we’re always busy.
“It’s a great stable to work for – I’m really enjoying my time there.”
The talented sportsman, who will play football with Old Xaverians in the Melbourne amateur competition next year, said his career highlight was watching champion mare and stable star Winx win her third consecutive Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 28.
“I came home in the truck with Winx after her Cox Plate win,” he said.
“It was unreal to be at the races with her when she raced into history and then to come back to the stables with her after the races. She’s a very relaxed mare.
“She left the Melbourne stables last week for the spelling paddock.”
Chandler had a stint working for Darren Weir’s Warrnambool satellite stable before venturing to Melbourne, where he is also studying business at RMIT two days a week while working for Waller.
TALENTED jockey Luke Williams hopes to make a return to riding at Moonee Valley this Friday night after seven months on the sidelines.
Williams, 43, has been out of the saddle since his dad Colin died in April.
He then broke his left little finger in a track mishap and needed three operations to fix the break.
“I’ve had a horrid run,” Williams said.
“Dad passed away and his passing shook me around and then I broke my finger.
“I had three operations and there were suggestions the finger would have to be amputated.
“I didn’t want that to happen, but all is right now.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle.” Williams, who has battled weight issues, said he would ride at 58.5kg on Friday night.
He resumed riding in February after a two-year break due to personal issues.
“I’ve got my weight back under control,” he said.
“I’ll ride at 58.5kg on Friday but should be down to 55kg within in a few weeks.
“I’m in great shape and looking forward to the future.
“I’ve been lucky I’ve had great support from my wife, family and Warrnambool owners and trainers.”
Williams hopes to ride the Merv McKenzie-trained A Good Yarn at the Valley.
WARRNAMBOOL jockey Declan Bates will be missing from the riding ranks at Dunkeld this Saturday.
Bates pleaded guilty to a careless riding charge on Mandiar at his home track last Thursday.
The charge related to an incident passing the 800 metre mark when Bates allowed Mandiar to shift in when not clear of Arcadian. His suspension starts midnight on November 17, after the expiry of a suspension incurred in South Australia, and ends November 24.
Christine Puls pleaded guilty to a careless riding charge following her ride on Bomb Blast at Ararat on Sunday, but she will be back for Dunkeld.
Stewards found Puls allowed Bomb Blast to shift in when not clear of Dupo.
Her suspension started at midnight November 12 and ends midnight November 17. Stewards deemed the incident to be in the low range and took into account her guilty plea.
ANOTHER Victoria Racing Club Melbourne Cup carnival has come and gone.
The carnival was littered with highlights on and off the track.
For me, the most amazing point was the three placegetters in the Melbourne Cup.
Rekindling, Johannes Vermeer and Max Dynamite are all trained in Ireland. We need no further proof to see the Melbourne Cup is truly an international race with exposure all over the world.
The three placegetters will ensure more international horses make the trek to Australia in a bid to take home some of the excellent prizemoney on offer for the race that stops a nation.
The other amazing part of the carnival was more than 310,000 patrons filed through the gates for the four days while a new grandstand is being built.
The crowd saw 497 horses compete in 37 races, representing an average field size of 13.4 runner.
They competed for $19 million in prizemoney – 25 individual trainers and 22 jockeys shared the spoils.
Crowd numbers were down slightly on last year’s figures, but that was to be expected as works for the new grandstand – which will be ready for the 2018 carnival – continue.