Victorian jockey Mark Pegus has spent time riding in the Northern Territory in the past and he is currently back riding in Darwin and Alice Springs.
Considering he is also a trainer these days, Pegus headed north with a few horses as well.
Pegus, victorious on General Market in the 2007 Darwin Cup for trainer Michael Hickmott, will be in action at Fannie Bay in the Top End on Saturday before catching a flight for the Pioneer Park meeting in the Red Centre on Sunday.
Based in Stawell, the 44-year-old has made a lot of friends in the NT over the years and one of his best mates is in fact Darwin-based trainer Chris Nash, who hails from Victoria.
“Darwin isn’t the worst place at this time of year,” Pegus said from Darwin on Friday.
“I was at home with a small team of horses and not looking forward to winter, and I thought that it might be a good option for me to come up here for a couple of months.
“It’s pretty icy, wet and cold at this time of year in Stawell.
“I’ve always enjoyed coming up, there are good people up here who always seem to enjoy a good time and they look after you when you’re here, so it’s quite good.
“Obviously, I’ve had a bit of luck over the years.
“A good mate of mine, Chris Nash, is here and that’s who I’m staying with.
“It’s good to catch up with a few mates that you don’t get to see very often.
“I even went fishing with trainer Gary Clarke the other day.”
After kick-starting his NT sojourn on Tennant Creek Cup Day on May 13 where he finished fifth on his horse Gold Logie, a five-year-old gelding, and eighth on Nash’s horse Air Command, Pegus featured at Darwin last Saturday and Alice Springs last Sunday.
He managed a second on the Kevin Lamprecht-trained three-year-old Iknowhatyouredoing over 1100m (BM57) and third on Nash’s Ideas Man over 1100m (BM76) at Fannie Bay before saluting the next day on Terry Gillett’s Pioneer Sprint winner Supreme Attraction over 1000m (BM75) at Pioneer Park.
They’re racing in the Top End and the Red Centre once again this weekend with Pegus featuring at both meetings.
On Saturday, he will partner Clarke’s Great Diviner in a 1200m open handicap before his horse Benevolent, a four-year-old mare, lines up over 1000m (0-58) with in-form apprentice Emma Lines on board.
Come Sunday, he is booked to ride Dick Leech’s Kerioth over 1000m (0-70), Greg Connor’s Bold Tropic over 1000m (0-58) and Lamprecht’s Huckleberry over 1400m (BM54) before once again partnering Supreme Attraction in the $25,000 Pioneer Park Anniversary Cup (1400m) at 0-76 level.
“I won on Supreme Attraction down there the other day and we’ll stick with him,” Pegus said.
“It was a good win back to the 1000m, just let him fall out the back and tack up around the corner and he put them away quite well.
“I think he’s a smart horse and he’ll probably head to Darwin for the better sprints up here.
“It will be a good race on Sunday and hopefully he can get the job done again.
“He’ll be pretty hard to beat if he fronts up in the order that he did the other day.
“He seemed to settle well and he towed into the race and he’s got a really good turn of foot when you asked him to go for a horse on dirt.”
Pegus, who also travelled north with five-year-old gelding Komachi, added that despite reaching out to trainers to ride in the NT he has accepted invitations over the years to ride in the Territory.
“This time I came up on my own accord and brought a couple of horses of my own up,” he said.
“They’re lower grade horses that might be able to pick up some weaker races and then head towards the Carnival.”
Pegus’ career in the saddle started in 1999, but he retired in 2017 before making a comeback on Cox Plate Day last year at the St Arnaud meeting in Victoria.
Records indicate that he has ridden 978 winners, including the 2008 Group 1 Goodwood Handicap (1200m) at Morphettville on Shadoways for Echuca-based trainer Gwenda Johnstone.
Pegus took out his trainer’s licence in 2019 and after posting his first win with Veraj at Yea in regional Victoria in January 2020 he now has 19 winners next to his name.
“I’ve been all over the place,” Pegus said.
“I was apprenticed at Acqualina to Russell Cameron in Melbourne.
“Went to Adelaide to Dan O’Sullivan and won the apprentice’s title over there.
“Then back to Melbourne and then did a stint in Malaysia, Macau and Mauritius, and finished up doing a stint in Queensland before I gave it away.
“Even though I had a long time off, I might have only had six or 12 months where I didn’t ride a horse, so I hadn’t lost touch.
“I was then just working my own horses – trialling them and riding them at trackwork.
“I thought, well, I may as well ride them race day as well, so I made a comeback.”