Oliver replaces Brown on the Cat
Damien Oliver will be the new rider for Apache Cat, replacing Corey Brown, when the six-year-old runs in the Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley on Saturday week.
Trainer Greg Eurell said he was mystified by Apache Cat’s effort when ninth to top West Australian Scenic Blast, beaten 3-1/4 lengths, in the Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington last Saturday, a race he won last year.
Brown told connections he felt the son of Lion Cavern was looking for a bit more ground.
"We felt his last four starts hadn’t worked out as planned. It wasn’t a slur on Corey," Eurell said.
"But the combination was no longer optimal and Corey offered his thoughts about getting a second opinion."
Brown has been aboard Apache Cat at his last nine starts, including his run of five consecutive Group One wins from February through to May last year.
He won the Lightning Stakes and the Australia Stakes on Apache Cat who has been placed at two of his past four outings without winning.
After finishing eighth to Swick as even-money favourite in the Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington last spring he went down by a nose to Takeover Target in the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on November 29.
He finished strongly for third to Inspiration in the Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on December 14 before being freshened up for the Lightning.
Oliver has ridden the baldy-faced chestnut six times for two wins and two thirds, the victories coming in the 2007 Group Two VRC Blamey Stakes (1600m) and the Listed BMW Stakes (1100m).
Eurell said Apache Cat’s performance in the Australia Stakes would determine whether he stays at 1200m or is stepped up in distance.
"It depends on whether he comes out and puts in a blinder," Eurell said.
Apache Cat could be freshened up for a try at back-to-back wins in the TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 18 or alternatively go for the George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on April 4 followed by the All-Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on April 25.
Meanwhile, Brown will ride the John O’Shea-trained Fist Of Fury when the talented three-year-old resumes in the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 21.
Brown rode the Hussonet colt when he beat the Gai Waterhouse-trained Northern Meteor in an 800m barrier trial at Randwick last Friday.
Fist Of Fury chased home Northern Meteor when a half-length runner-up to that colt in the Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day last spring which was his only defeat in three starts.
Fist Of Fury is $6.50 favourite for the $1 million Newmarket Hcp (1200m) at Flemington on March 7 with TAB Sportsbet, just shading Northern Meteor at $7.
Encosta De Lago colt Northern Meteor has created a huge impression in winning the last three of his five starts.
By Mark Ryan