Heywood continues good run as Toretto breaks through in Murrumbidgee Cup

Nick Heywood. Photo: Bradley Photos

Nick Heywood enjoyed a terrific week of results, winning five races for five different Goulburn trainers in seven days, which included doubles at Canberra on Friday and Wagga on Sunday. 

First, he rode for Tim Martin at Gundagai last Sunday, winning aboard Sunshine Reggae ($2.45) in the 1000m Maiden Handicap. 

At Canberra, he combined with Danielle Seib to win on Almahero ($7.50) in the 1200m Benchmark 65 Handicap after guiding the Scott Collings-trained Hello Jack ($2.50) to a good win in the 1200m Class One Handicap. 

Then at Wagga, Heywood won his most significant race of the week when taking out the Murrumbidgee Cup (1800m) on the Matthew Dale-trained Toretto ($4) before winning for Danny Williams, this time on Rent A Rock ($7) in the 1600m Benchmark 58 Handicap before 

“It’s turning out all right, especially after all the hard work,” Heywood said.

“It’s good to be getting the results, and now being based in Goulburn, I’m getting those opportunities, and you can see that, getting winners for Danielle and Scott at Canberra and Matt and Danny at Wagga.”

It was Heywood’s second win in the Murrumbidgee Cup, and while the Goulburn galloper is ballot exempt for next month’s $200,000 Wagga Gold Cup, he is happy to follow the galloper wherever Dale sends him. 

“I won the race on High Opinion in 2016,” Heywood said. 

“He got into the Wagga Gold Cup, but I got suspended on him in that race and missed out on the ride on him in the cup, and I still haven’t ridden in the cup, and he would have been my one ride.

“I’m not sure if he (Toretto) will go to the cup, and I always leave it up to Matty.

“It will be a stronger race, and  I think his pet distance is 1500m to a mile, but he’s more than capable in the stronger field and over that distance – Wherever he goes, Matt will have him in prime order.”

Toretto ‘deserved’ the win in Sunday’s staying feature after his recent Minor placings in the 2023 Moruya Cup, the Southern Districts Country Championships qualifier at Moruya, and a mid-week race at Hawkesbury. 

“He had the best form in the race, and yes, it was his first time over 1800m, and I had to switch him off in the first half of the race, but he did that and ended up being really good in the second half. 

“He’s a funny horse to ride; you have to switch him off, and you don’t want to hit the front too early on him as he can think about it, but he was strong at Wagga, and he really deserved that win.”

Heywood might be on a good run of form, but his partner and popular Goulburn apprentice, Hannah Williams, has been the talk of the track after making a splash in the metropolitan ranks. 

Williams rode her first metropolitan winner on the Norm Gardner-trained Delacour in the 1100m Benchmark 72 Handicap at Hawkesbury on April 5. 

On the weekend, she made it a Saturday double, again winning on Delacour in the 1100m Benchmark 78 Handicap at Hawkesbury after she guided the Matthew Dale-trained Penthouse to a good win in the 1100m Class Two Highway Handicap. 

“Hannah is working extremely hard, and I’m so proud of her,” Heywood said. 

“She has come a long way, going from no real background in racing, and hopefully, she gets some more opportunities because I think she is as good as any senior jockey.”

On Tuesday, Williams is back in town, riding for Bjorn Baker when jumping aboard Mocial Chief in the 1400m Benchmark 72 Handicap.  

Heywood will be off to the Central Districts with a big book of rides at Bathurst.