WAGGA trainer-jockey Mick Travers will watch his first city runner from Griffith Jockey Club on Saturday.
Less than 12 months after being awarded a dual licence, Travers will get one of the biggest thrills of his training career when he starts Mathrin in Saturday's $100,000 TAB Highway Class Three Handicap (1400m) at Kembla Grange.
The city meeting has been transferred from Rosehill and is one that Travers has decided not to attend, instead opting for a full book of rides at the Griffith Cup meeting.
It is a unique challenge of being both a trainer and jockey, but Travers explained he was in the fortunate position of being able to send Mathrin to Kembla Grange to allow him to ride at Griffith.
"It's not that I can't go. I've got the opportunity to ride at Griffith instead and have two bites of the cherry, go earn here and earn there hopefully," Travers said.
"The same owner has a trainer at Kembla and they've picked her up just now, this morning, and they will take care of her for me and save me going there and doing all of the COVID testing and all that other stuff.
"It's worked out nicely."
Mathrin will run at 11.40am on Saturday. That's enough time for Travers to watch and be ready for the first at Griffith at 12.53pm.
"I'll be there on track and watching," he said.
"Then I'll have all day to think about it after, what went wrong. I'm not going up there thinking she can win by any means. She's 30-1 for a reason."
Travers is very much a realist and cannot be accused of getting ahead of himself. Mathrin has won two of her last three starts. She ran second a close second behind Branders Rule at Albury last week.
Unfortunately she has come up with the outside barrier in the field of what was 14 on Thursday afternoon. COVID-19 restrictions prevent Travers from being able to ride Mathrin so James Innes Jnr takes the ride.
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"She'll struggle. The travel is going to be the hardest part for her, she's not a good traveller. Then we've just got to see how she lines up. You just don't know," Travers said.
"She's only won two races but she's done her best in her last three starts. If she's ever going to be competitive, now will be the time she's competitive.
"Her win when she beat Mojo Magic and Tap N Run, that was a really good win. If she can run up to that form again, even last start was good, I just pressed the button too early and went too early on her. She just left herself exposed, hopefully she can get hemmed up a little bit and leave it until late."
Travers may not hold high hopes but he admits it is a great thrill to be able start Mathrin in a Highway.
"Absolutely. And to be able to achieve the goal for the owners more than anything else. That's been the goal," he said.
"They buy a lot of horses with the main idea that hopefully they can get one that can go and run in a Highway. And to be able to achieve that goal for them is as much of a thrill as taking her up there.
"It's very satisfying for them to have this opportunity and I'm very happy for them to be able to do that. She's not going to have better form (than she has now) and the race is there at Kembla, to save me going into greater Sydney.
"I would have liked to have given her another week but the race was there and she's in good form, and that's what they want to do, so we're going to go."
Mathrin, owned by Robyn Tatham and her partner Peter Knight, has two wins and a second placing since being transferred to Travers.
Travers has a full book on the six-race TAB card at Griffith.
He will ride Equilibrium for Connie Greig in the $17,000 Yenda Group Griffith Cup (1350m), one of two horses the Dubbo trainer has in the feature race.
Meantime, Wagga trainer Gary Colvin has scratched Nic's Hero from the same Highway on Saturday after drawing a wide gate.
Colvin will be represented by Mahsinger and Bravado Lass in the Griffith Cup.
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