Arnold unfazed by split
A timely split from the Lloyd Williams camp could prove fortuitous for jockey Steven Arnold as he attempts to win his third Sandown Classic in four years on Zarita.
Arnold this week was dumped as the stable rider for Williams as part of a restructuring of the Macedon Lodge operation which included the replacement of John Sadler as head trainer by Robert Hickmott.
He would have been required to ride one of the stable’s three entries for Saturday’s Group Two Sandown Classic (2400m) but now, as a freelance rider, is able to continue his association with Zarita after finishing third on her last start to Typhoon Tracy in the Group One Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington.
Arnold said his departure from Macedon Lodge came as a surprise but he was "happy to move".
"All these things come to an end and it’s the start of a new chapter," he said.
Williams has nominated Efficient, Zipping and C’est La Guerre for the Sandown Classic.
Arnold won the 2007 feature on Zipping a year after scoring on Gallant Guru for Lee Freedman.
Zipping won the feature again last year when ridden by Michael Rodd and would be the first three-time winner if successful on Saturday.
However Arnold said that Zarita, who won the 2008 SA Derby (2500m), should not be underestimated and that she had strong claims at weight-for-age despite jumping in distance to 2400 metres.
"I am happy to be riding her," he said.
"She is a quality mare and I think she will run well."
Trainer Pat Hyland said Zarita was a relatively fresh horse compared to some of her opposition in the Sandown Classic and that she was back in form.
He said she had a gut-busting run when she scored a narrow win over Cats Whisker in the Group Two Stocks Stakes (1600m) in mid-September which affected her next two runs when third last in both the Underwood Stakes (1800m) and Yalumba Stakes (2000m).
"She sort of lost her way a bit after she won at Moonee Valley," Hyland said.
"I think it knocked her about a bit but she is back on tap now and I’m happy with her."
Dwayne Dunn had ridden Zarita at her four starts before the Myer Classic but his commitment to the Freedman stable afforded Arnold the opportunity to ride her last start.
"We had been very happy with Dwayne but Steven rode her very well the other day and it is pleasing to have him on her again," Hyland said.
By Robert Windmill