Milestone stakes win awaits Bradley

Gorbachev
Group 3 SkyCity Hamilton Waikato Cup (2400m) contender Gorbachev. Photo: Race Images

Veteran jockey Darryl Bradley is looking forward to a gilt-edged opportunity to achieve two career goals at Te Rapa on Saturday. The 53-year-old, who these days combines riding with his role as racecourse manager at Foxton, is sitting on 99 career stakes wins.

He heads to Te Rapa for just two rides but both are in feature races, aboard Gorbachev in the Group 3 SkyCity Hamilton Waikato Cup (2400m) and Guillada in the Group 2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m), both for Bulls trainer Bryce Newman. “It would be a huge achievement,” Bradley said. “I look at what Jimmy Cassidy has achieved and it pales to his 100 Group 1 wins but for myself in the context of New Zealand racing, it’s really important to me personally. Both horses are good rides. They are going really well and they’ll give me every chance.”

TAB bookmakers have Gorbachev as a $9.50 chance in the Waikato Cup, for which last-start Group 3 Counties Cup (2100m) winner In A Twinkling is a $3.30 favourite. Gorbachev has shone as a stayer over the past year, winning the Group 3 Wellington Cup (3200m) at Trentham and finishing fourth and third in the Group 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m) at Riccarton.

He also won over 2400m at Trentham two starts back in Bradley’s first ride on the Gorky Park six-year-old gelding. “He just loves a dogfight. He gave me everything that day to win,” Bradley said. “I’m really looking forward to riding him on Saturday. I’ve tried to win as many Cups races throughout New Zealand as I can and the important ones left for me are Waikato and Wellington, so to win a Waikato Cup this weekend would mean a lot to me. “Bryce brings his horses to Foxton for their fast work and I ride them in their gallops. This horse is going really well and he’s in with a good, competitive chance in an even field.”

Bradley, who began his apprenticeship under his father Graham in Stratford in 1984, remembers winning the Waikato Cup Trial (2200m) on Chad at Te Rapa in 1990 in a track record that still remains of 2:12.4. “Dad trained him and he broke the track record but he just couldn’t back up,” recalled Bradley, whose best wins at Te Rapa have been on Centrofold in the 1997 Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies Stakes (2000m) and Dolmabache in the 2012 Group 2 Travis Stakes (2000m).

Bradley, who recently brought up 1800 New Zealand wins, will aim for another Group 2 success on the track aboard Guillada, a Guillotine four-year-old mare he has ridden on five occasions for three wins, including a last-start Rating 82 win over 1600m at Wanganui. “She’s putting her hand up to try and get some black-type. We’re testing the water and throwing her in the deep end a bit,” Bradley said. “It’s a big step up this weekend against a strong field. We’ll find out if she’s good enough on Saturday but I believe she will be one day even if it’s not this weekend. There are some good black-type races for fillies and mares coming up if she can measure up.”

TAB bookmakers have shortened Guillada from her $13 opening price to $11 in a market headed by last-start Group 2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) winner Yearn at $2.90.