After guiding the Matthew Dale-trained Cavalier Charles to victory in the Country Championships wildcard qualifier at Scone on Sunday, many racing pundits would have thought Nick Heywood had a big decision to make.
The 27-year-old was offered the ride on the Canberra runner that is currently third ($6) on the line of betting to win the $500,000 Country Championship finals at Royal Randwick on April 2.
Still, the young Wagga jockey has stuck loyal with the Gary Colvin-trained Another One ($9), which he guided to a second consecutive Southern Districts qualifier at Wagga last month.
“I have always been committed to Another One,” Heywood said.
“Matty Dale has been good to me throughout my career, and he always knew I was on Another One when he made the choice to go to the wildcard.
“I was offered the ride, but I am sticking with Another One.”
Heywood was stoked to help the Dale stable get Cavalier Charles into the rich final, after the pair finished fourth in the South East qualifier behind Testator Silens before a remarkable come from behind win at Canberra only seven days prior to their Scone victory.
“His benchmark was low, and he had to win to get into the wildcard,” Heywood said.
“I thought I rode him bad at Nowra. I rode him at 56kg, and I feel like I didn’t take the 1% options, which you would if you were riding heavier.
“I thought it might have cost him a chance of being in the final and I’m just lucky I was able to ride him at Canberra to that win and again in the Wildcard.”
Despite committing to Another One, Heywood believes Cavalier Charles is the real deal, and he said being on the Denman gelding gave him plenty of confidence.
“I have ridden for eight or nine years now, and I find the better the horse is, and the more knowledge I have of the horse, the more it fills me with a lot of confidence,” Heywood said.
“Every time I jump on Cavalier Charles; I don’t even worry about the end game. I just worry about riding him to where he is happy and where he can finish off.
“That confidence he gives me, and the confidence I give him, knowing what he is capable of, got us the win there at Scone.
“Plus, he is a gentleman to ride, he jumps, travels, and gives a kick and he is that versatile.”
For Heywood, all attention is now back with Another One though, with the Wagga galloper bolting in for an easy trial winner at Wagga last week, with the Wagga hoop even travelling back from Scone on Sunday night just to work the Super One gelding on Monday morning.
“He was only going to have that trial at Wagga on the 17th. We gave him a good trial and he has pulled up a treat,” Heywood said.
“I rode him this morning (Monday), and did slow work, and he hasn’t missed a beat – he is airborne.”
The $500,000 Country Championships will bring together some of the best gallopers in country NSW on April 2, and after Another One finished second in 2021, Heywood thinks he is on the right horse to take out the race out in 2022.
“Now it comes down to the best horse on the day,” but he is doing everything right,” Heywood said.
“He ran second to Art Cadeau last year, and they went a bit slow, and he was three deep the trip and it was the chance that got away.
“Hopefully he draws a nice gate and I think I’m on the right horse going into the race.”