Dixon and Lewis prepare for Hillston expedition

Zara Lewis and the Bryan Dixon-trained Big Arjay will race at Hillston on Saturday. Photo: Racing Photography.

Gilgandra trainer Bryan Dixon and stable apprentice Zara Lewis will trek to Hillston on Saturday, with a team of five gallopers engaged to race on the Hillston Cup program. 

Dixon’s team will be on the road first thing on Friday morning, making it a long expedition to the Southern Districts. 

“We are going to head across tomorrow (Friday), and we are leaving at 6am in the morning,” Lewis told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“We will stop at Lake Cargelligo. Bryan has made some plans, then we will head to Hillston.”

The Dixon stable had planned to be racing at the postponed Warialda meeting on Saturday, but instead decided to venture south. 

“Bryan decided at Quirindi the other day,” Lewis said.  

“We had heard that Warialda wasn’t going to be on, and he had a look at what else was on, and he saw Hillston and had a look at where it was, and he made the decision to head across.” 

Lewis will be tasked with guiding all five runners around the Hillston circuit, jumping aboard Lenny’s Lad in the Hillston Cup, while Media Statement is in the 1000m Maiden Plate and Big Arjay will contest the 1200m Benchmark 45 Handicap

Jianzhang also goes around in the 1400m Maiden Handicap and Shiny Agent will race in the 1500m Class One Handicap. 

Lewis picked up a full book, and will also ride the Wayne Marden-trained Orezira in the 1000m Benchmark 50 Handicap, and while the jockey admitted it would be a challenge riding at a completely foreign track, the three-kilogram claiming apprentice has done her homework and she explained that she would take every step to give her horses the best chance possible.

“It’s always good to make sure you walk the track as soon as you get there,” Lewis said.

“I’m on horses I know, and it’s good knowing the horses, especially when you are on a track you don’t know, because it’s nice to know they will make those turns.

“Plus, I do have a little bit of insight on Hillston. Mum (Virginia Heron) rode at Hillston, and she told me it’s a good little track.”

As far as the stable’s chances at Hillston, Lewis is just hoping the Gilgandra gallopers handle the dirt track. 

“It’s a bit hard to say how they will go because they are untried on the dirt,” Lewis said. 

“It will come down to whether or not they handle the dirt well, and if they do, I think I will have a couple of good chances.” 

Despite a busy two days ahead of the stable, Lewis was looking forward to the road trip to Hillston.

“It’s going to be good, but really busy,” Lewis said. 

“It’s good to see the different districts and it’s nice to visit the track and see different trainers and jockeys.”

The young jockey, who kicked off her career at the picnics, is loving life as a professional and was glad to be associated with Dixon and his team.

“I have been enjoying it,” Lewis said. 

“I just took a month off and had a bit of a break to see the family and that, but it has been good.

“I’m definitely in a very good stable and I get a lot of opportunities on Bryan’s horses, and he has been very supportive.

“There have been times where it is challenging, but I think that makes it more rewarding.”

Lewis will be hoping to add more winners to her record at Hillston on what should be a good day of racing.

The Namoi Cotton Limited Hillston Cup headlines the six-race-program, and readers can click here for full fields.

For more on the meeting, including fashions and entertainment and what’s on, readers can click here.