Unbeatable combination?

Feb 25, 2016

BY MATT KELLY - @MATTY_KEL

3 hours ago Horse Racing

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Jockey Patrick Moloney. Pic: Vince Caligiuri/GettyImages.

LUNCH on Thursday with Patrick Moloney? “A glass of soda water and a hydrolyte icy-pole, an unbeatable combination.”

The 22-year-old apprentice is hoping he and his mount Headwater will be just that - an unbeatable combination - when he chases his first Group 1 win in the Oakleigh Plate.

So are the nerves starting to rise?

“Mate I’m sweating, although I have just come out of the gym so that might have something to do with it."

Moloney’s training and diet have been altered since he was booked to ride the colt. He’s dropped from 53kg to 49.5kg in the past week, to make the 50kg weight.

“I put on four extra layers of clothing, then got stuck into my session - cross-trainer, bike, rower, bike, treadmill, stretch.

“I’ve ridden in the Plate the last two years. Every Group 1 is different. This is the best chance I’ve had going into the race. That said, I’ve never drawn inside barrier 16 (18 on Saturday), so I’ve never had any luck with barriers.”

Moloney teams up with Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes for the second straight year, after piloting Nostradamus in last year’s race.

“They’re top class trainers who know how to get a sprinter cherry ripe. They’ve got this thing called Chautauqua who ran some pretty handy sectionals last week.

“Headwater is a very classy animal, he’s very well bred (Exceed and Excel out of a Hurricane Sky mare). I haven't sat on him yet, so hopefully it'll be love be at first sight.”

The three-year-old colt comes into the race off a narrow win up the straight at Flemington in the Kensington Stakes (January 30), but finished eighth of eight over 1000m at its only start at Caulfield in October last year.

"He had a lacklustre start to his three-year-old campaign, but came back close to his best against a horse where the form has been franked since."

Form is something Moloney himself has been regaining after the year started with a month’s suspension for careless riding.

“It came at a pivotal time in my career because I’d ridden out my claim in town. It really knocked the wind out of my sails.

“I have to reign myself in a bit more, but I’m an aggressive rider and it’s going to take an aggressive ride to win. Come Saturday it’s massive stakes. The Hawkes’ have put a lot of faith in me and I’ll be giving Headwater the best possible opportunity to win the race.

“My weight’s right, I’m feeling good and I’m ready to snare my first Group 1.”

So with lunch done the final question remains, what’s for dinner?

“A salad or a wrap with an Oakleigh Plate win for dessert.”