Riddell keen for redemption on Babylon Berlin

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  • November 22, 2022
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High-class jockey Jonathan Riddell is keen to get a proper raceday ride aboard speedy five-year-old mare Babylon Berlin.

Riddell has ridden Bablyon Berlin a fair bit in training, but hadn’t been aboard her on raceday until the Gr.3 Counties Bowl (1100m) last Saturday. Unfortunately, his first raceday experience was about one stride, as the mare knuckled when the gates opened and lost balance, throwing Riddell off her.

He went some way to making up for his misfortune 30 minutes later, winning the day’s feature, the Gr.2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m), aboard another class mare in Darci La Bella.

Riddell said the misfire aboard Babylon Berlin was especially disappointing given that she is trained and part-owned by Ben Foote, one of Riddell’s closest friends in the industry.

“It might test our friendship,” Riddell quipped.

“But that’s what made it hurt a little bit more. It was my first raceday ride on her, but I rode her at her first trial and I’ve ridden a heap of work on her, so I know her really well. I was quite excited to ride her.”

Riddell said it would be up to Foote and the mare’s other owners to decide if he gets to ride her at her next start, but he said Foote had been keen for him to ride the mare in the Counties Bowl and he hopes to be aboard her again shortly.

“I’m available to ride a fast horse like that any time. She’s like a bullet.”

Riddell then produced a heady ride to win aboard Darci La Bella. He got her into a nice place one off the fence, but made a quick decision at the top of the straight to look for a run between horses in the middle of the track which paid off handsomely.

“She got a good run and relaxed really nicely,” Riddell said.

“Warren Kennedy (aboard Slave To Love) was going to cart me wide on the turn so I had to duck back on the inside of them.

“But once we found a gap she basically just put them away. Having a bit of give in the track helped her as well, and she’s got a good turn of foot.”

The Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes was also Riddell’s first raceday ride aboard Darci La Bella. The pair are set to be reunited at the mare’s next scheduled start, the Gr.2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) under weight-for-age conditions at Awapuni on December 17.

The win was the 14th for 2022-23 for Riddell, and his first black type victory for the season. The 44-year-old’s opportunities can be restricted by weight – he rides at 56kg – but he usually finds a good horse or two for the season.

“I’m getting the weight. It’s probably as good as it’s ever been, and is going to be,” he said.

“I’m hanging in there and I’m I’m quite happy with how things are going. I’m at the other side of my career so I’m not worrying about the small stuff.”

Riddell will be riding at Te Rapa on Saturday, where his rides are expected to include the Bruce Wallace and Grant Cooksley-trained Gino Severini in the Gr.3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m) and Tauranga sprinter Gospodin in an open 1300m handicap.

Riddell has had a good partnership with Gospodin, riding him five times for two wins, two seconds, and a fourth placing, and they should be competitive at Te Rapa, especially given the rain-effected conditions.

As with Babylon Berlin and Darci La Bella, Riddell will be aboard Gino Severini for the first time in the feature at Te Rapa. – NZ Racing Desk

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