Champion country jockey Mathew Cahill would typically be getting ready to ride at the Parkes non-TAB Christmas program on Saturday.
Instead, he will make a rare trip to town for one ride at Royal Randwick.
There, Cahill will team up with Peter Morgan when riding Burrandana in the $120,000 Class Three Highway Handicap (1400m).
The five-year-old will carry 60kg, but he should get a good run in the 12-horse field from gate four.
The Duporth gelding is no stranger to a trip into Sydney, having run three consecutive runner-up finishes in Highways at Royal Randwick and Rosehill Gardens in July and August before going out for a 17-week spell.
Burrandana resumed with a 1065m trial at Wagga on December 2, where Cahill helped him to a four-length win.
“I rode him in a trial the other day, and Pete said he was taking him and asked me if I wanted the ride,” Cahill told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
“He’s run three seconds there, and I’m happy to get the opportunity.”
“He felt good, and Pete said he came through the trial well,” he said.
“The horse that ran second was unraced, so he needed to beat them easy, which he did, but he did trial well, and we’re happy with him.”
With the likes of Mosgold (Jett Stanley, $8) and All Astern (Jason Collett, $10) expected to go forward, Cahill said he would likely look for a quiet run before unleashing Burrandana on the long Randwick straight.
“I haven’t spoken to Pete about what we’ll do, but he normally gets back; he is not the best out of the gate,” he said.
“I’ll aim to have him where he is comfortable. First-up over 1400m, and with the big weight, I’ll try to give him a chance to find the line.”
Cahill is no stranger to the city, with Racing and Sports having him down for 36 winners at Royal Randwick and an additional three on the Kensington track.
Additionally, he’s ridden 37 victories at Rosehill Gardens, 29 at Canterbury, and 22 at Warwick Farm, but he was the first to admit that he didn’t venture into Sydney all that often these days.
“It’s been a while,” he laughed.
“You go where you think you’ve got the best rides, but it is nice to go back and have a good ride.”
A return to Sydney, let alone seeing Cahill in the saddle, is remarkable after the 56-year-old was involved in a race fall at Canberra in April 2022 that left him with a fractured C1 vertebra.
The veteran jockey made a low-key return in June after 14 months out of the saddle, and he’s since ridden 16 winners.
Still, Cahill said the winners were the cherry on top and that being able to ride at the races put a smile back on his face.
“Regardless of riding winners, it’s just nice to be able to compete again,” he said.
Cahill will have plenty of reasons to smile on Saturday if he can triumph in town on Burrandana, which deserves a Highway win.