MELBOURNE'S leading apprentice jockey Josh Richards will return home in a bid to win Friday's $200,000 Wagga Gold Cup (2000m).
Richards will return to ride at Murrumbidgee Turf Club for the first time since for Melbourne 12 months ago when he teams up with Canberra trainer Matthew Dale on Five Kingdom in Friday's feature.
Richards has not ridden at Wagga since his departure last year, a move that has seen him establish himself as the leading apprentice in Melbourne.
Richards, 27, is rapt to be returning home to ride a live chance in the Gold Cup.
"Yeah really happy. My manager rang me last week and said we got offered a ride in the Cup that I rode last start," Richards said.
"I ran second on it at Caulfield and it ran a really good race so I'm really happy to be back on board."
Richards said he didn't hesitate for a second once he was told the ride was Five Kingdoms.
"Not when my manager told me what horse it was," he said.
"I was pretty excited when he told me what horse it was, especially after I rode it last start. I think it will be a genuine really good chance."
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Richards said it would be a dream come true to return home to Wagga and claim the cup.
"It would be terrific," he said.
"When you get into racing and you go to those carnivals, it would be a dream to win your home cup. It would be really exciting, especially at this time in my career."
Five Kingdom has been a model of consistency this preparation, running minor placings at all four starts.
He ran second in the Canberra Mile, third in the Canberra Cup, second in the Albury Gold Cup, before running second with Richards aboard at Caulfield last month.
The seven-year-old gets in on the minimum, 54 kilograms, and will start from barrier six.
"He ticks a few boxes. I'll talk to Matty closer to Friday but it looks a really nice race for him, especially with how he went in the Canberra Cup and Albury Cup," Richards said.
"Then he came down to Melbourne and having ridden the horse now and now that I've had a feel for him, I'd be happy to ride him again."
Richards has just four rides, at this stage, over the two days, including Let's Get Animal for his partner, Maddy Collins, on Thursday.
Richards will then fly back to Melbourne on Saturday morning for a strong book of rides at Caulfield.
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