Magic Millions absences give apprentice jockeys plenty of metro hopes

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James Innes Jr will be after back-to-back wins on the Gerald Ryan-trained Pendeloque at Randwick.

James Innes Jr plans to capitalise on the opportunity a Magic Millions carnival provides, two years after he rode a treble while Sydney’s senior jockeys were at the Gold Coast meeting.

The 2016 Magic Millions race day was one of the highlights of the apprentice’s career when he saluted three times at Canterbury.

Innes, 23, has a book of six rides at Randwick on Saturday as apprentices benefit from the absence of many senior riders.

He is one of five apprentices with three or more engagements while Clayton Gallagher makes his city debut on General Harmony in the Highway Handicap.

Innes, who is indentured to Pendeloque’s trainer Gerald Ryan, nominated the three-year-old filly who runs in the ATC Championship Sprint (1200m) as the pick of his rides.

He has been in the saddle for both of Pendeloque’s career wins and is expecting another strong performance after she successfully returned from a spell in a Benchmark 75 Handicap (1100m) at Randwick a fortnight ago.

“She’s going to bounce from a good gate (3) and if we get a good run up front again, she’ll be hard to beat. I did some work with her on Tuesday and I can’t fault her,” Innes said.

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While he knows Pendeloque well, Innes admits his first ride on Coolring was a learning experience and he now has a handle on how to rate the seven-year-old in the Maroubra Mile.

Innes said he was at fault for the gelding’s sixth over 1400m at Randwick last Saturday.

“I gave him a dig to get to the lead and when I dropped my hands on him he stopped underneath me so I’ll have to keep him up and rolling,” he said.

Innes still has fond memories of winning aboard Mr Steal, Mana and Esgrimidor at Canterbury two years ago.

“That treble got me rolling in town,” he said.

“You wait for these kinds of days to make a name for yourself, days when you haven’t got the world’s best jockey (Hugh Bowman) riding against you.”

Innes is scheduled to finish his apprenticeship at the end of March.