TWO premier Southern District apprentices of the past will return to the region for this week's Albury Gold Cup carnival.
Tyler Schiller and Josh Richards will both return for one day of the Albury carnival each.
Richards will be back on a hit-and-run mission. He has two rides on Thursday before he returns to Melbourne for the group one meeting at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Richards will ride the Phil Sweeney-trained Mr Moppett in the $75,000 Albury City Handicap (1175m), as well as Anchorage earlier in the day for Matthew Dale.
Schiller will be looking to return and claim the $200,000 listed Albury Gold Cup (2000m). He has the ride on $4.20 joint favourite Harmony Rose, for his boss Mark Newnham.
Schiller, who recently enjoyed his first group one ride, is booked for five at Albury on Cup day.
ALBURY Racing Club chief exectuive Steve Hetherton has defended the quality of this year's Cup field.
This year's $200,000 Albury Gold Cup attracted just a field of 12, the smallest field since 2016.
The Flat Knacker, Albury Guineas and Country Magic also failed to attract full fields.
"The top end quality in the race is excellent," Hetherton told The Border Mail.
"We are rapt that Entente is coming back to defend his crown after his fantastic win in the race last year and he has since gone on to bigger and better races.
"If you put those top five or six runners under the microscope they have been racing in Group company which is a strong form pointer for an Albury Cup.
"Yes, it's disappointing that we didn't get a full field but that is not isolated to Albury.
"If you look at the racing in Sydney and Melbourne over the past month there has been some small fields as well, especially in the staying races.
"A classic example is the Mornington Cup on Saturday is worth $300,000 and has only eight runners.
"So we are not going to dwell on having a dozen runners.
"There are also a couple of local runners in our cup which is always pleasing to see."
TOP Southern District jockey John Kissick hopes to make his long-awaited comeback to race-riding at Holbrook on Saturday.
Kissick suffered a badly broken leg on Wagga Town Plate day last year and has endured a long and, at times, frustrating recovery process in a bid to return to the saddle.
Kissick rode eight jump outs at Wangaratta on Wednesday for the second time in the past fortnight and pulled up well, giving him the green light for a return.
Now, he hopes to secure a ride at Holbrook.
"I can't wait," Kissick said.
"I haven't got a ride locked in yet but I'm only looking for one or two on my first day back.
"It's been a long time and I want to get back into it flat out."
Kissick will begin his comeback riding at 59 kilograms and plans to progressively lower it as he goes.
It is the second comeback Kissick has had to make in the past three years, initially coming back from a broken back, that kept him out for 1306 days.
WAGGA jockey Nick Heywood continued his fine Country Championships form at Scone last Sunday.
Heywood backed up his win on Another One in the SDRA qualifier with victory aboard Cavalier Charles ($8.50) in the $50,000 Country Championships Wild Card (1400m) at Scone.
Heywood delivered a peach of a ride aboard the Matthew Dale-trained galloper to win the race in track record time.
Heywood was already committed to Another One and will stick with the Gary Colvin-trained galloper in the final.
Another One tuned up for the final with a six-length trial win at Wagga last week.
It proved to be a good day at Scone's showcase meeting for Heywood, who returned two wins and a second from three race rides.
It completed a busy few days for the Wagga jockey. Heywood rode at Wagga on Thursday, before going to Gosford for eight trial rides on Friday morning. He was back to Goulburn that afternoon for the races, before heading to Scone on Sunday.
Heywood is enjoying a good run of form, having ridden six winners from 20 rides this month.
ACCOMPLISHED Wagga three-year-old Rocket Tiger made a good return from injury at Flemington last Saturday.
Having his first run in exactly a year, Rocket Tiger stuck on well down the straight for a sixth placing in Benchmark 80 company, beaten two and a half lengths by Don'ttelltheboss.
Also in the field was the Ron Stubbs-trained Tap N Run, who finished ninth, beaten four lengths.
Tap N Run was having his final hit-out before the Country Championships at Randwick on April 2. Craig Williams, who rode the horse on Saturday, has the ride for the $500,000 final.
WAGGA trainer Chris Heywood hopes Blitzar will be right to return in the near future despite a recent injury setback.
Heywood was forced to scratch Blitzar from the $50,000 Country Championships Wild Card (1400m) at Scone last Sunday when the horse was found to be lame on race morning.
The last-start Cowra winner had swelling on a leg, leaving Heywood with no other choice but to scratch.
Heywood had already made the trip, arriving at Scone on Saturday. Blitzar had travelled up well, adding to Heywood's frustrations.
Heywood is hopeful the injury won't keep Blitzar, a winner of five of his 22 starts, out for long.
A COUPLE of Southern District trainers have been active at the recent Magic Millions sales.
Jerilderie trainer Phil Sweeney purchased a couple of yearling fillies at this week's Gold Coast sale.
Sweeney paid $28,000 for a Sizzling filly out of Lush Belle, as well as $18,000 for an Exosphere filly out of Move To The Groove.
Chris Heywood also picked up a Starcraft filly, out of Sundaze Lovin', for $15,000 at the sale.
Wagga trainer Gary Colvin made the most of his trip to Adelaide for the sale earlier this month.
Colvin paid $40,000 for an Astern colt, out of Torchsinger, and $14,000 for a Manhattan Rain colt, out of Snip Missile.
Heywood also grabbed a Nicconi colt, out of Sutton Forest, for $5000.
ALBURY Racing Club are not the only Southern District venues preparing for their biggest day of the year this week.
Tullibigeal Picnic Race Club will hold their annual race meeting on Saturday, featuring the $9000 Tullibigeal Picnic Cup (1600m).
The club is gearing up for a big day with fashions on the field, kids entertainment and the annual Golden Gumboot foot race after the last race.
Meantime, it is Cup day at Holbrook as well.
The $15,000 Holbrook Cup (1400m) is the feature, with the likes of Claptone, Swagger, Son Of Spartacus and Landmine among the nominations.
Both country clubs are expecting big crowds.
Thursday: Albury (TAB)
Friday: Albury (TAB)
Saturday: Holbrook (non-TAB), Tullibigeal (non-TAB)
Saturday: Wagga (TAB)
Tuesday: Junee (TAB)
Friday: Wagga (TAB)
Sunday: Temora (TAB)
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