Heywood returns from injury to ride Testator Silens in South East qualifier

Nick Heywood. Photo: Bradley Photos

Nick Heywood will look to put a broken leg and a significant stint on the sideline behind on Sunday when riding the Luke Clarke-trained Testator Silens in the South East County Championships qualifier at Moruya

Heywood fell from the Matt Kelley-trained Mammoth Mountain rounding the final turn on the Wagga Riverside track back in November.

The 27-year-old explained that he had been working hard ahead of his return, which arrived at Dubbo on Friday when finishing third on the Michael Lunn-trained Yak in the 2212m Benchmark 58 Handicap. 

“I fracture my tibia and all the way up until now, I’ve been out for four months, so it’s been a bit of time out,” Heywood said. 

“Still, it all seems to be going pretty well. My first ride back at Dubbo was over 2200m, and it was a bit challenging, but when I was getting ready to come back, I applied myself between swimming and running to try and get that edge when I came back so I wasn’t feeling as buggered. 

“It seems to have done me favours, and I feel like I’m getting in good order, and I’m really looking forward to Sunday.”

Testator Silens is the current $5 second-favourite in the $150,000 South East qualifier, and Heywood finally gets the chance to ride the talented five-year-old, which has won five times in 11 starts, including a good victory in the 2022 qualifier. 

“Funnily enough, he (Luke Clarke) offered me the ride in The Kosciuszko, and I thought I was on Another One, and Winona (Costin) ended up riding Testator Silens,” Heywood said. 

“He’s been trying to get me on the horse for a while now, and it’s worked out that he was able to grab me this time round.

“It’s a really nice ride to come back for. He’s got 59kg, he’s the class horse in the race, and he hasn’t won for a year, but it was this race last year, and with a bit of luck, I think he will be hard to beat.”

Clarke went as far as putting Heywood on for a gallop at Goulburn, with the Star Witness gelding boasting a reputation of sorts. 

“I spoke to Luke the other day when he brought him over to Goulburn for me to gallop, and he was pretty happy with how he has come on,” Heywood said. 

“He said he has done a few things different this time in, and I regard Luke as a good trainer and horseman, and I take in every word he tells me, and if he thinks the horse is going well enough, that’s enough for me.

“The qualifiers are hard to win but he is tough as nails, and he is a bit of a rogue, and he’s not an easy horse to ride, but I’ve had a sit on him now and he feels really good.”

The top-weight will start from gate nine and is coming off a seventh in the Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes, where he was only beaten 1.97 lengths, and Heywood believes it’s the perfect preparation. 

“I think he is the horse to beat for sure,” Heywood said.

“His record and last start tells me that he is going good enough. He is coming back from getting beaten two lengths in a Group 3, to a Class Five country race, and if he gets the right race, we should get a bit of room when we straighten up, and if the tracks a bit wet, that will suit him too.”

Heywood has a big book of rides at Moruya on Sunday, and he will ride five for Danny Williams, proving that his recent move to Goulburn is paying dividends. 

“Myself and my partner (Hannah Williams) moved to Goulburn, and we’ve been there since December, and it seems to be a good move,” Heywood said. 

“We are a bit closer to the provincial tracks, and for me, we can get to Canberra, Goulburn, and those other tracks.”

All eyes will be on Heywood at Moruya and for fields click here and for markets click here.