Former Southern Districts jockey Tyler Schiller returned home on Friday, taking out two feature races at Albury, including the Albury Gold Cup aboard the Mark Newnham-trained Harmony Rose.
It was a cakewalk for connections in the $200,000 feature, with Schiller taking a sit in second place on the four-year-old in the 2000m race, with the pair trailing early leader, Entente (Lee Magarrian) from the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott yard.
Schiller made his move on Harmony Rose at the 600m, and they were in front by the 400m marker, before pulling away to win by two lengths from the Matthew Dale-trained Five Kingdom (Jeff Penza), while a further two and a half lengths away in third was the Bjorn Baker-trained Maurice’s Medad (Brock Ryan).
The Group 3 victory is one of the biggest of Schiller’s burgeoning career and it seemed fitting it was for his master, Mark Newnham.
“It was so nice to be able to ride my first stakes winner for my boss, and on a horse that I have now ridden three times for three wins,” Schiller said.
Harmony Rose opened favourite in the Albury feature, but she drifted to $5.50 on the NSW TAB fixed odds board by the time the gates had crashed back, but Schiller said there was stable confidence, especially with the Glass Harmonium mare racing on a good track.
“She has been working enormous and the wet tracks up here just hadn’t suited her and getting back on a good track really helped,” Schiller said.
“We thought she had their measure, especially with only 54kg and in that grade.”
Albury had been upgraded to a good three prior to the running of the Albury Cup and Schiller believed Harmony Rose excelled over the 2000m and on the firmer surface, which is evident by her track record effort when recording 1:58.38 for the 10 furlongs.
“I just don’t think she loves the heavy, she goes okay on a soft track,” Schiller said.
“She just showed yesterday she can run a good race on a good track and run time too.”
The 23-year-old hoop made it a race-to-race feature double at Albury when winning the last on the program, taking out the $75,000 Flat Knacker aboard the Ron Stubbs-trained Boss Lady Rocks.
“I think I only rode for Ron once before when I was down that way,” Schiller said.
“It was great to get a win for him; he does a great job as a trainer, and he has a few nice horses coming though.”
Schiller, who now rides fulltime for Newnham, plies his trade at the provincials and in town but he admitted he loved getting back to where it all began.
“I love going back down to the Southern Districts. There is just no pressure and I just ride the races as i see them,” Schiller said.
“I have that experience from riding with the senior jockeys in town now, and it helps so much going back there.”
It has been a meteoric rise for Schiller, who kicked off his career in 2018, before making a name for himself in 2019 and 2020 as one of the best country apprentices going around.
“My old boss was great. Phil Sweeney set the foundation for my career, putting me on horses that made me look good,” Schiller said.
“He gave me confidence, which kept me improving, which led to better opportunities, which kept it rolling and got me better opportunities again.
“Then working with Mark; he has helped me get the confidence in the provincials and to move into town has been so easy.”
It was another big two-day carnival for Albury, and on Friday the $80,000 Albury Guineas was won by the Marc Connors-trained and Brock Ryan-ridden Starstruck Barbie, who was too good for the Todd Smart-trained Kelvedon Road (Billy Owen) in second the Dan McCarthy-trained Riddlero (Tahlia Hope) in third.
On Thursday, the $75,000 City Handicap over 1175m was won by the Mitch Beer-trained Mnementh (Jordy Mallyon), ahead of the Donna Scott-trained Oamanikka (Jack Martin) and the Tara and Philippe Vigouroux-trained Zouologist (Winona Costin).
Also on Thursday, the Mike Petrovic-trained Onsettling Down (Mick Heagney) was too good in the $50,000 Albury Mile, beating the Keith Dryden-trained Gunga Din (Brodie Loy) and the Ron Weston and John Nisbet-trained Mad As Zariz (Kayla Nisbet).