In 2021, Will Stanley had only just won his second ever race as a picnic jockey when guiding the Bryan Dixon-trained Song One to victory in the Bedgerabong Cup.
On Saturday, Stanley made it two wins in a row in the time-honoured feature race, guiding the Connie Greig-trained Valadyium to victory.
Valadyium came from well off the pace in a speedy affair, holding off the Clint Lundholm-trained Nepenthes (Wayne Wheatley) in second and the Kieran Hazleton-trained The Bald Eagle (Mick Gray) in third.
“It was good to get the win,” Stanley said.
“She was able to settle second last and they were going a fair clip up front, and the one behind her was Get Up Alby, and that was good as I thought he would be closer to the speed.
“At about the 600m I gave her a niggle-on to start rolling into the race and she dropped a couple of gears and went straight past them and won easy.”
Stanley was pleased to land an elusive win for the Greig stable, having gone close without much luck in the past.
“I have had about 20 rides and run about 10 seconds for Connie and it’s good to finally get a winner for her,” Stanley said.
“It was a bit overdue.”
Stanley was the first to admit he has a love-hate relationship with Valadyium, but with the mare behaving at Bedgerabong, the young jockey was able to guide her to victory.
“I only found out on Friday that I was riding her,” Stanley said.
“I asked Connie which one was definitely starting, because Naoko had a run at Dubbo, and she told me I would be riding Valadyium.
“I didn’t ride the other one (Get Up Alby) because I don’t like him, and he don’t like me, and Connie knows that.
“Valadyium is a bit funny with me too. I’ve ridden her once, and she was a bit of thing in the gates, and she made me lose the irons and it probably cost her that race.
“At Bedgerabong she behaved like an angel, and that’s when I thought we had a good chance.”
Stanley said he enjoyed racing at Bedgerabong, praising the committee for delivering a track that he believed was as good, if not better than some professional racecourses.
“It’s a good track and it’s easy to be on the backmarkers there because they go so quick up front, and those at the back can settle in and when the leaders die, you can get a good run into the race,” Stanley said.
“It’s the best picnic track I’ve ridden at. I have ridden at a couple of professional tracks and it’s probably still better than a couple of them.
“It’s never too hard, never too soft and every horse has their chance.”
It was a long-awaited return to picnic racing at Bedgerabong on Saturday, with Stanley joking that the body was feeling it the next day.
“It’s been five months since I’ve last ridden at the races and I tell you what; l I can fill it,” Stanley laughed.
“I jacked my irons up on every one of them, so I’m feeling it today.”
While Stanley was now looking forward to being legged up at Condobolin picnic races on Saturday, he explained that it could be the last picnic meeting he rides at for the foreseeable future, with the Bathurst jockey hoping to make the step up to the professionals.
“Well, I’m hoping Condobolin is my last one as I’ve applied for my apprenticeship again,” Stanley said.
“We are just waiting on the okay. It will be sad, but it will be good and I’m looking forward to the future.”
For readers wanting more information on the Bedgerabong meeting and results, they can click here.