EXPERIENCED country jockey Mathew Cahill has himself in prime position for a crack at his first Southern District Racing Association (SDRA) premiership.
With almost a third of the season gone, Cahill has opened up a six-win lead in the jockey's title.
The 54-year-old is one of the most distinguished and respected jockeys in country racing but has never taken out an SDRA jockey's title from his Cowra base.
Cahill has ridden 21 winners in the SDRA so far this season to lead Jordan Mallyon (15) by six. Michael Heagney (10), Brodie Loy (10), Simon Miller (nine) and Nick Heywood (nine) round out the chasing pack.
Cahill was pleased this week to learn of his lead.
"Yeah, I'm really happy with that," Cahill said.
"A couple of the guys I'm riding for down here at the moment, guys like Ronny Stubbs and Tim Donnelly, I'm riding for plenty of good trainers and their horses are firing at the moment and that carries on through the year.
"That's what I put it down to. Normally I'm running about 10th down here. So that's a good start."
Cahill also leads the NSW country jockey's premiership by a couple from Ashley Morgan, while he sits second in the statewide title to James McDonald.
Cahill said once the winners come, his riding seems to improve.
"I'm having a good season. The horses have been firing, that's the main thing," he said.
"I'm riding for the better trainers and their horses are firing. Your confidence gets up too.
"It's like any sport, when your confidence is high, you seem to go better. You're making the right decisions out there then. When you're having a bad run, you're second guessing yourself out there but when you're riding well, you just go on instincts and you seem to make the right decision, funny isn't it?"
LEADING Albury trainer Mitch Beer holds a narrow lead as he looks to defend his SDRA title.
Beer (11 wins) leads the trainer's premiership by two from Wangaratta trainer Andrew Dale (nine).
Tim Donnelly's (eight wins) strong start to the season has him in third, while fellow Wagga trainers Gary Colvin (seven) and Wayne Carroll (six) round out the top five.
Beer will head to Moonee Valley on Friday night with imported stayer Perfect Illusion.
MATHEW Cahill will retain the ride on Participator when he steps out at Rosehill on Saturday.
The unbeaten three-year-old has drawn perfectly in barrier five for Saturday's $100,000 TAB Highway Class Two Handicap (1200m).
The Tim Donnelly-trained galloper has won two from two and could not have been more impressive when winning by four and a half lengths at Wagga first-up this preparation.
TALENTED Wagga apprentice jockey Josh Richards has been granted permission to extend his apprenticeship in Victoria until the season's end.
Richards was granted approval by Racing NSW some time ago but had to await further approval from Racing Victoria.
That approval was granted this week with Richards being given the green light for a permanent transfer to trainer Michael Kent.
Richards is now right to ride the season out in Melbourne, where he holds a big lead in the metropolitan apprentice jockey's premiership after almost four months.
He enjoyed a successful week just gone, riding winning doubles at Sandown last Wednesday and at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Richards only has three more wins before his metropolitan claim drops to two kilograms.
IT WAS also a good week for another flying former Southern District apprentice jockey.
Tyler Schiller enjoyed one of his best days at the races when he landed a winning double at Kembla Grange's 'The Gong' race meeting.
Schiller guided Dragonstone to victory for his boss, Mark Newnham, before claiming the supporting feature, the $300,000 Warra on the Greg Hickman-trained Eleven Eleven.
It was Schiller's first Saturday metropolitan double and continued a successful comeback from a wrist injury.
WAGGA trainer Chris Hardy plans to keep Zakeriz a little closer to home for his next couple of starts after his success at Queanbeyan last Sunday.
Zakeriz continued his brilliant preparation with victory in the $40,000 Queanbeyan Cup (2000m). It came just a couple of starts after his win in the Cootamundra Cup.
Hardy and part-owner Richard Thackeray is no stranger to Queanbeyan Cup success, having won the 1980 edition with Blue Ricci.
Races like the Ted Ryder Cup at Wagga on December 24 are now firmly on the radar.
Thackeray and Hardy are being rewarded for their patience after Zakeriz endured a couple of injury setbacks early in his career.
"You never give up. You do what the experts tell you to do. We gave him stable rest for a while, then he was just out in the paddock with another horse at home," Thackeray told The Canberra Times.
"The best is still in front of him."
NEW Murrumbidgee Turf Club chief executive Jason Ferrario has wasted no time getting familiar with his surrounds at Wagga.
Ferrario does not start in the position until Monday but was at the races on the Monday just gone and was also an attendee at the MTC annual general meeting on Tuesday night.
Ferrario will also be in attendance at the club's big Christmas Party race meeting on Saturday, where the club expects another strong turn out.
Racing will return to the course proper for the seven-race TAB card.
SNAKE Gully Cup winner Ready To Humble has drawn wide in Friday's $100,000 Wodonga Gold Cup (1590m).
The first emergency, Footmark, is the only SDRA galloper in the feature, but the region is strongly represented throughout the day.
INSIDE RACING will be on hiatus for the next couple of weeks and will return mid-December.
Saturday: Wagga (TAB)
Friday: Young (TAB)
Tuesday: Wagga (TAB)
Friday: Wagga (TAB)
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