Million ride at stake as Waddell seeks judicial reprieve
A ''stalemate'' between sacked rider Jason Waddell and the connections of Sunday's $1 million Karaka Million favourite Ruud Awakening will be resolved in a Judicial Control Authority hearing at Te Rapa today.
Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh advised Waddell and his agent Darryl Anderson last weekend that the jockey's services would not be required for Ruud Awakening after he failed to make the weight for two rides on runners raced by the filly's owners, the Go Racing Syndicate, at Trentham last Saturday.
However, Waddell has challenged the legitimacy of his dumping, saying he had a firm booking for the filly for the rich Ellerslie two-year-old race on Sunday.
The hearing will begin at 12.10pm tomorrow, with the JCA panel given the task of deciding whether Waddell should be reinstated on Ruud Awakening or whether a replacement rider - most likely champion Australian jockey Craig Williams - takes the mount.
Marsh yesterday said he had become increasingly unhappy with Waddell in the past two weeks to a point where he had told him that unless he could make the weight for Lucky Country and Savour The Moment at Trentham last Saturday, he would be replaced aboard Ruud Awakening for the Karaka Million.
''I'm not happy with what's gone on in the past few weeks with him,'' Marsh said.
''I put it to them before nominations for last Saturday's meeting that if he couldn't do the weight that day, then I wasn't comfortable with booking him for my two-year-old.
''He clearly didn't make the weight - he was a kilo over - and for mine it's not good enough. We're at a stalemate. The
JCA will review it tomorrow and we'll get more of an idea from then.''
Marsh said he had ''a few options'' for a replacement rider but nothing was set in concrete.
He said while he had spoken with overseas riders he preferred to have the Waddell matter sorted before any jockey was confirmed for the mount.
However, jockey agent Mark Guest yesterday confirmed last year's winning rider Craig Williams was booked on standby for Ruud Awakening.
Waddell has been aboard Bernadini filly Ruud Awakening in all four of her starts, which have resulted in three wins and a second placing.
She won the Listed Wellesley Stakes at Trentham at her second start and was a last-start Ellerslie winner last Saturday week to confirm favouritism for the race restricted to graduates of last year's Karaka yearling sales series.
Anderson said he believed he had a ''firm booking'' for Waddell on Ruud Awakening for the Karaka Million, having spoken to Marsh after the Ellerslie win and getting the response ''We're all go'' from the trainer.
He said there were extenuating circumstances for Waddell not making the weight for the two Trentham rides last Saturday.
''He was overweight for two of their [Marsh-trained, Go Racing-owned] horses on Saturday but he had a legitimate excuse,'' Anderson said yesterday.
''His plane out of Hamilton was delayed one hour and 20 minutes and he wasn't able to get to Trentham to spend that time in the sweat box to take the extra weight off.
''Jason knew he had to do 54.5 kilos on Sunday and he was on track to do that. If he wasn't at that weight today he would have been tomorrow. We're pretty disappointed about the whole thing really.''
Sixteen two-year-olds remain in contention for the Karaka Million, for which a field of 14 will be finalised today.
Sydney-based James McDonald will ride the Danica Guy-trained Gobi Ranger, while Australian jockey Vlad Duric will ride the Anthony Freedman-trained Victorian raider Minaj, who galloped at Ellerslie yesterday, timed to run her last 800m in 48.9 seconds and last 600 in 34.6 seconds in the hands of track rider Will Stewart.
Minaj has been stabled with Cambridge trainer Frank Ritchie in the leadup to the Karaka Million, which was won last year by the Freedman-trained Ockham's Razor.
Opie Bosson replaces Matt Cameron on the Jason Bridgman-trained Catalonia, while Michael Coleman rides Dancer's Tale, Kelly Myers is reunited with Fantastic Honour and that filly's last-start rider Vinnie Colgan switches to last-start Gr II Wakefield Stakes runner-up Charlestown, while Leith Innes rides the stablemate Keepherhot.
Jonathan Riddell replaces Danielle Johnson on Touche, while Reese Jones rides impressive debut winner Al Strada, Sam Spratt rides Gateway and Mark Du Plessis rides Eastern Dragon.
Rory Hutchings rides the Graeme and Debbie Rogerson-trained Precious Sophia, while Lisa Allpress rides her stablemate A Beautiful Knight.
Stable manager Murray Gregory said: ''They galloped together this morning and went very well. Graeme's very happy with them both.''