Mikayla Weir eyes Orange Cup following milestone win

Mikayla Weir will ride the Scott Singleton-trained Vincenzo in Friday’s $75,000 Orange Cup. Image: Bradley Photos.

After recently bringing up a significant milestone, Mikayla Weir will be out to add an Orange Cup to the mantlepiece on Friday. 

The popular jockey has enjoyed a good association with the Scott Singleton-trained Vincenzo.

The pair triumphed in an 1800m Benchmark 68 Handicap at Hawkesbury on March 28 before winning the 2100m Mornington Prelude at Tamworth on April 8.

The five-year-old is a country-trained stayer on the rise, and Weir will be in the saddle when they compete in the $75,000 Orange Cup.

“He is racing really well,” Weir told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“The whole idea of him is to let him be happy early and find his feet, as he can pull a bit.

“You’ve got to find that happy medium, as he does wear blinkers, but if you get him happy and let him go through his gears, he’s really good.”

The Scone-trained galloper will carry 61kg in the Big Dance qualifying race, but that isn’t what had Weir worried. Instead, she was focused on the tempo and how the race would play out.

“I think he will carry the weight; that’s not a problem. He is a big enough type of horse,” Weir said. 

“The only query is the smaller field and if they will run along enough for me. 

“If they want to walk, I’m not going to put any type of pressure on them, so we’ll be hoping something runs them along so he can settle.”

“It could be run really well; if they do go, that will suit him.”

Vincenzo is eligible for next week’s $50,000 Mornington Handicap (2100m), and Weir wasn’t sure if the Real Impact gelding would back up again at Tamworth.

“I asked Scott this morning (Wednesday) what he was planning, and he was leaning towards running him Friday, but he might still hold off and go to Tamworth, so we’ll have to see,” Weir said. 

It’s been an exciting little period for Weir, who’s tasted some success in town, winning multiple Highways, while earlier this month, she brought up her 500th career win. 

Riding at Dubbo on April 7, she rode a winning double, first combining with Connie Greig to steer Laisvas ($5.50) to victory in the 1600m Maiden Handicap. 

In the final event of the day, Weir then teamed up with long-time friend and supporter Gayna Williams, winning her milestone race on Fletchlo (4.60) in the 1400m Class Three Handicap. 

“I knew I was getting close to 500, and only a couple of days before, I clicked on my name to see where I was up to, and I thought I could probably do it at Dubbo,” Weir said. 

“I ended up riding a double on the day, but it was really pleasing to do it for Gayna. 

“She was one of my biggest supporters when I came out of my country claim, and she kept putting me on with no claim.

“My first winning ride with no claim was a winner for her, and to tick off 500 for Gayna was pretty sentimental.”

Coincidently, Weir will be out to win another Highway on Saturday when teaming up with Fletchlo in the 1400m Class Three Handicap at Royal Randwick.

The Bathurst galloper is the second emergency and is currently a $34 chance. 

Still, if Fletchlo doesn’t gain a start, Weir’s focus will quickly turn to Muswellbrook on Sunday, where she will be riding three chances.

A dedicated jockey who travels the state, Weir loves riding horses and will take the opportunity to go practically anywhere.

“It doesn’t matter if they are going to town or a midweek, or if I’m riding in the country, I have always said to myself that if I can ride consistently, I’m thrilled,” Weir said. 

“When I was younger, it was the dream to ride this many winners, but as an apprentice, it was a slow, hard slog and was about working hard and doing the hours.

“Honestly, when I started, I thought I might ride out my apprentice, see where I am, and maybe go in a different direction, but I kept getting the support.

“I love my job. I’m blessed to do what I do and enjoy the success that comes with it. 

“Plus, I’m also lucky with my weight, and it makes it easy when weight is not a problem; I can grab a coffee on the way or dinner on the way home without worrying too much.”

A cowgirl at heart, Weir lives and breaths horses.

The Wollongong product spent her formative years at rodeos, and she is now preparing for life after racing, investing money and time in her Quarter Horses. 

Even during this particular interview, Weir had two horses saddled and was readying for an afternoon of riding following a big morning of trials at Scone. 

“I live for my horses, and my downtime is my horses, and every day I have off, I try and compete or go for a ride,” Weir said. 

“I am always training young horses I’ve bred; it’s my incentive to ride, so I can do what I love and come home and put all my focus into my own horses. 

“If I’m not riding trackwork, I get up super early and ride my horses before the races, and if it’s daylight savings, I’ll ride them after the races.”

In fact, Weir is changing the Australian performance horse landscape, investing heavily in overseas sires as she looks to breed her own champions.

“I’ve focused a lot on breeding, and I always try to get hold of imported semen, as we have many stallions in America that we have access to in Australia,” Weir said. 

“We can breed through AI (artificial insemination ), and I’ve invested a lot of money into breeding better horses for Australian lines.

“We’ve got one by Epic Leader out of Famous Destiny, and he only has four in Australia, so I’m doing things outside of the box, and I’ve got that opportunity.”

While Weir is focusing on her breeding program away from racing, on-track, she will be motivated to keep kicking goals.