Champion jockey Damien Oliver is confident Flying Artie can overcome a tough draw and provide him with a second Blue Diamond Stakes win.
Oliver piloted Alinghi to victory in 2004 and heads into Saturday’s 1200m contest certain Flying Artie has improved from his first-up win.
Flying Artie overcame the widest gate to take out the colts and geldings division of the Blue Diamond Prelude at Caulfield on February 13.
But while Oliver’s confidence in his mount isn’t waning, punters are losing faith with the colt drifting from $3.50 to $4.50 since Tuesday’s barrier draw.
Flying Artie has barrier 17 but will jump from 15 with the scratchings of the second and third emergencies.
“It wasn’t the first one you would have chosen but I’m happy with the horse as he’s trained on really well,” Oliver said.
“He’s still got a great chance but it (barrier) hasn’t made the job any easier and there’s a few in there that we have to beat.”
Oliver did note Saturday’s field was largely inexperienced and conceded drawing out may not be the hindrance it appeared on paper.
He said luck in running and avoiding interference were key ingredients to success in big races.
Oliver was given the choice of rides between trainer Mick Price’s two Blue Diamond runners and said he wouldn’t swap his mount despite Extreme Choice drawing the better of the pair in gate 13.
Extreme Choice maintains race favouritism at $2.75 and while Oliver says there is little difference between the stablemates in terms of ability, he is banking on Flying Artie appreciating a 100m distance rise.
“They’re two different types of horses with Extreme Choice a fast two-year-old whereas Flying Artie has the scope to get over further and be a nice three-year-old,” Oliver said.
“If there was one small factor that swayed me it was there might have been some improvement to come from his (Flying Artie’s) first-up run.”
Oliver is hoping there isn’t a repeat of the last time he made a decision between stablemates in a Blue Diamond.
The jockey opted to ride the Lee Freedman-trained Compulsion over Danelagh in 1998.
“Compulsion was a race morning scratching and Danelagh won it,” Oliver said.
“Let’s hope we get a bit further than that one.”
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au