Champion jockey Robert Thompson has ridden more winners in Australia than anyone else but one race is close to his heart.
On Tuesday, Thompson will be out to win his 12th Jungle Juice Cup on his home track at Cessnock where he rides Three Sheets for his old friend, trainer Jeremy Sylvester, who is seeking his ninth victory.
Together the pair has won the 1350m-race six times.
They combined with Justifiably Proud (1988), Desalante (1989), Mighty Rimu (1993) and Jungle Juice legend Youthful King 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Sylvester’s other two winners were Pre Record (1992) and Youthful King (2011) while Thompson’s other wins came on Top Hat Joe (1982), Action Time (1985), Barzoon (1986), Beaucastel (1994) and General’s Sniper (2012).
Three Sheets has won two 1000m events at Randwick this campaign since resuming from an 11-week break.
Sylvester will also saddle up Collar who resumes in the Jungle Juice Cup with Tegan Harrison to ride.
Three Sheets is raced by a large syndicate of Cessnock and Hunter Valley locals.
“All the boys are having a bit of fun with him,” Sylvester said.
“He’s owned locally and it’s a big local race so we thought wed have a crack at it.
The rise in distance from his two wins this campaign is the only query in Sylvester’s mind.
“I would have preferred a 1200-metre race as a lead-up but there’s been nothing suitable,” Sylvester said.
“(But) he relaxes in his races and gets home hard like he has in his two wins this time in.”
Three Sheets’ only attempt at Tuesday’s distance was when he finished 4-1/2 lengths 10th to Clearly Innocent in the Country Championship Qualifier (1400m) at Scone on February 21.
“He probably should have run a place in that,” Sylvester said.
“He didn’t get much room over the latter stages.”
Sylvester isn’t selling Collar short.
“I’m happy with him,” he said.
“He ran second in this race last year and comes in nice and fresh. Tegan Harrison won the Ballina Cup on him and rode him quite a few times in Brisbane for me.
“He’s definitely a good chance.”