Rodd positive about Maldivian

Jockey Michael Rodd has likened Maldivian to AFL premiers Hawthorn as he prepares for an upset win over arch-rival Weekend Hussler in Saturday’s Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.

Rodd is taking Michael Roddsome heart from Hawthorn’s defeat of the all-conquering Geelong team which was odds-on to keep its winning streak intact in last week’s grand final.

Like Geelong, Weekend Hussler, with 12 wins from 15 starts, is seemingly unbeatable with victories in the Memsie Stakes, Makybe Diva Stakes and Underwood Stakes at his last three runs.

TAB Sportsbet today quoted Weekend Hussler $1.65 to make it four wins in a row and land his eighth Group One race while Maldivian, who is trying to regain winning form, is $14.

“I would like to do a Hawthorn, that is for sure,” Rodd said.

He said Weekend Hussler looked invincible but he believes Maldivian was still improving.

“Saturday is going to be a telling race but I couldn’t be happier with him (Maldivian),” Rodd said.

“He has taken a bit longer than last year to come up but he is feeling very well and I am looking forward to Saturday.”

Maldivian has clashed with Weekend Hussler at three of his four starts this campaign.

He was third to Light Fantastic and Weekend Hussler when all three horses were resuming in the Liston Stakes and was second to Weekend Hussler in the Memsie Stakes, beaten a long neck.

In the Underwood, Rodd rode Maldivian aggressively to make it a true staying test for Weekend Hussler who was on trial at 1800 metres and in the process brought himself undone finishing fourth to the champion.

Trainer Mark Kavanagh said different tactics would be used on Maldivian on Saturday.

“I can guarantee he won’t be ridden like that this week,” Kavanagh said.

Beating Weekend Hussler is the toughest assignment in racing but Rodd and Kavanagh remain positive.

“No doubt he is going to be bloody hard to beat again,” Rodd said.

He said Maldivian’s action was faultless, dispelling speculation that the horse may have been hurting in the Underwood.

“He just got tired,” Rodd said.

“If he didn’t want to be there or was hurting he would have been hurting at the top of the straight not at the 100-metre mark.”

“Everything is good.”

Rodd admitted Maldivian had an extravagant action and he was “a little bit awkward to ride” because he is such a big horse.

“When you ride him it is like you go from driving a mini minor and to a four-wheel drive,” the jockey said.

“It just feels a lot different to a normal car. He does everything in slow motion.”

By Robert Windmill