Owen shakes of winter blues to ride Sapphire Coast treble

Billy Owen bagged a treble of winners at the Sapphire Coast on Tuesday.

Billy Owen will be the first person to tell you that he struggles with his weight at times and that the cooler months can cause him grief.

In fact, the 28-year-old was almost heading up north, with the talented jockey considering moving away from his base in Canberra, only for a recent run of form to change his mind.

“To be honest, I was ready to take off and head north,” Owen laughed. 

“Winter here in Canberra hits a lot earlier and I was riding at 57kg comfortably, then three weeks ago, I was struggling to ride 59kg and its hard to understand, but the winter months just knock me around a little more.

“I spoke to Nick (Olive) about it, and he understands it and he is like my second father and if I had to go away for six weeks to two months, then so be it.”

The Brungle product is happy to have stayed in Canberra, having ridden a double at Moruya on May 13 before bagging his first career treble as a professional at the Sapphire Coast on Tuesday.

“I have been working my arse off to keep my weight down, because if I could stay here for another month or six weeks, I knew I could get through it,” Owen said. 

“Then today happens, and now I know I’m on the right track. If I can stay riding at 58kg or 57.5kg for those couple of months, then I can keep going and keep getting winners.

“I love Canberra, I have been here for nearly 12 years, and I want to stay if I can.”

In what was a big day for Owen, he rode a race-to-race double to kick off the program, guiding the Nick Olive trained Lady Tabloid to victory in the 1207m Maiden Plate, while Le May was his second winner in the 1407m Maiden Handicap for trainer Mike Petrovic.

The in-form hoop landed his treble when the Matthew Dale trained Nothing Compares won the 1607m Maiden/Class One Handicap, and Owen explained that he had to ride all three of his mounts over their allocated weight, giving him confidence that both trainers and owners backed his talent in the saddle.

“All of my three winners today, I rode overweight,” Owen said.

“It’s a big thing that these trainers are trusting me to ride their horses overweight

“People are happy to put me on and they appreciate that I’m having a go and that it gets tough at times.”

Owen’s rise through the riding ranks has been well documented, from his days at the picnics, his affiliation with the brilliant mare Single Gaze, and his troubles with weight and injuries, still, he was pleased to celebrate a milestone treble.

“Oh mate, to be honest, I haven’t ridden a treble since the picnic days,” Owen laughed. 

“I have had a lot of doubles and on the same day, a couple of close seconds, so it was a good day.”

While he was always confident of bagging a winner or three, Owen said it could have nearly gone the other way, with a sometimes-tricky Sapphire Coast track hard to win on at times.

“I had a good book of rides, but I’m not a very confident person, and If I had come away with three seconds, I wouldn’t have been surprised,” Owen said. 

Owen was most confident of success on Nothing Compares, with the former New Zealander romping in for a four-length victory for the Dale stable.

“I thought Matty’s Dale was a good thing, but when we got there, it was originally a soft five and it was nearly a heavy eight when we raced, but she ended up being the class horse of the race,” Owen said. 

“I rode her first up for Matty over the carnival at Wagga, and obviously the carnival races are pretty strong, and it was too short, but she was very strong.

“I said to Matty when I came back (to scales) at Wagga, and I told him to put her in a class one/maiden anywhere and she wins, which she did.

“She is going to get over 2000m or 2400m and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her win a mid-weeker in the next six weeks.”

Owen has a couple of days to decompress before he is back in action again on Friday, with the Murrumbidgee Turf Club set to host a strong eight-race-card before he treks to Goulburn on Monday.