Will Stanley growing in confidence on picnic circuit

Will Stanley. Photo: Racing Photography.

Bathurst hoop Will Stanley never envisioned spending a long stint riding at the picnics, and while the 18-year-old still has one eye on returning as an amateur jockey at the professionals in the near future, he said he was enjoying his time on the picnic circuit. 

“I never really had any plans of going to the picnics and just wanted to get my apprenticeship and go straight through, but thinking about it, going to the picnics has been the best thing for me,” Stanley said.

“It’s good; you ride on the bad tracks and on slower horses and it means you are ready when you start riding on tv and things like that. 

“Plus, a lot of people think it is quite easy at the picnics, but it is not, and dad (Peter Stanley) always told me, any jockey can win on a good horse, but you’re only a good jockey when you win on slow ones, and you get a chance to do that at the picnics.”

Stanley has been honing his craft too, riding alongside experienced jockeys such as Ricky Blewitt, Wayne Wheatley, Brent Evans and Leandro Ribeiro, and he said Blewitt in particular had been very helpful to his career.

“Ricky is always good, and he is bit like a father figure,” Stanley said. 

“He is always giving me advice, and if I do something wrong, he is the first one to tell me what I can do better, or what I am doing wrong, and he won’t get angry, but he will take you into the steward’s room and talk to you about what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.”

Stanley made a return to the saddle back in February, winning the Bedgerabong Cup aboard the Connie Greig-trained Valadyium and since then, the jockey has won races at Tottenham, Ardlethan, Tomingley and Grenfell.

On Saturday, Stanley landed a winning-double at Coonamble’s pop-up meeting, which was held as a replacement for the abandoned Marthaguy meeting. 

“It was very good they still held the meeting and that we got to race,” Stanley said. 

“It was a good day. There were horses that were in front that kept running, and l won on one that led and on one that come from behind, and you could win from everywhere and the track played beautifully.”

Stanley won the feature on the program, the 1400m Coonamble Picnic Trophy, when guiding the Clint Lundholm-trained Bandahara to victory and he believed the last-minute change of track benefited the Dubbo galloper.

“Bandahara was suited to the long straight and he needed that time to warm up and I don’t think he would have handled Quambone,” Stanley said. 

“He picked them up quite easy, and he was just looking for that bit extra, and he is a miler or suited to a bit further, but once he got to them, he put them away.”

Stanley’s win in the feature brought up his double, while earlier in the meeting, he helped the Garry Lunn-trained Kallie to a good win in the 1100m Class B Handicap.  

“I was confident, but I had no idea she was favourite, and when I was going around to the gates, Ricky Blewitt said it would be hard to beat, and when he said that I thought it must be a good chance because he is usually on the money,” Stanley said. 

“I had to do a bit more work to cross a couple and sat one-out, one-back and lost about a length and a half at around the 450-metre mark, but I let her balance up when we straightened up and she dropped a couple of gears and blew past them.”

While an official return to the professionals isn’t locked in yet, Stanley said he would ride at Moree on May 28 and Mudgee on Junee 18.

“I am going to Moree in three weeks’ time, and if I am still around, I will try and win the Bligh Cup again,” Stanley said.

For full Coonamble results, readers can click here.