FATHER and son combination Chris and Nick Heywood will headline a large Southern District contingent in Saturday’s Highway Handicap at Randwick.
No Southern District-trained horse has been able to win a Highway Handicap since their inception in October last year.
The region will get their best chance with their largest representation to date in Saturday’s $60,000 TAB Highway Class Three Handicap (1000m).
The Heywood team will combine with new stable addition Lighthouse, while Tim Donnelly (Angus Rock), Brett Cavanough (Lunar Duchess) and David Blundell and Michelle Russell (Aussie James) also have runners.
Lighthouse had his first start for the Heywood stable last Monday week when second behind Volcanic Jester.
“I was stoked. I thought he went well first up for a long time on the heavy track,” Heywood said.
“It was his first time on a heavy and he was underdone because we haven’t been able to get the work into them.”
Heywood purchased Lighthouse from Debbie-Lee Saxton at Moruya, who retired this season due to health issues with jockey husband Roly.
The lightly-raced seven-year-old is into his third stable change after originally being trained by John Gamble, a close friend of the Saxtons. Gamble sent the horse to them after he suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised for weeks from a fall riding Lighthouse.
Heywood believes there is plenty to like about Lighthouse from the inside gate on Saturday.
“He’s drawn super with Nick on him. He knows him at least,” Heywood said.
“If it was set weights race, he would have 59 being a class three horse but because it’s not, he gets in with 54, which brings him right into play.”
Nick Heywood, now based with Peter and Paul Snowden, knows Lighthouse well. His first ever Saturday city ride was Lighthouse in this race 12 months ago.
Lighthouse won his first three starts but has not been successful in his nine since. Heywood believes he can get him back to his best.
“Roly always rated him as one of the best he sat on and I don’t disagree,” he said.
“He’s certainly got the ability.”
Meantime, Heywood will take two horses to Canberra on Friday. Imperious returns from a spell in the Benchmark 69 Handicap (1200m), while Monsoon Charlie is in the Class One & Maiden Plate (2000m).