The next edition of the Best Bets Star of the Saddle will get underway tonight as the nation’s top jockeys compete for $100,000 across the two days of the Ladbrokes Cox Plate Carnival at The Valley.
The Cox Plate Carnival prize will incorporate the annual Brent Thomson Award and be presented to the highest eligible points scorer over tonight’s Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes meeting and tomorrow’s Cox Plate Day card.
Having been conducted solely on the feature Saturday meeting across the past three weekends, the extension of the Star of the Saddle to two meetings brings a new dimension to the Spring Racing Carnival’s feature jockey competition.
This weekend’s Star of the Saddle takes in 18 races and, with points allocated on a 3-2-1 basis for the first three placegetters in each race, consistency will be the key.
Damien Oliver is well placed to stake a claim for his first Star of the Saddle with 12 rides currently across the two days of the Carnival, the same as star Sydney hoop Kerrin McEvoy who tied for the prize on Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas Day.
The man McEvoy split the $50,000 prize with on Caulfield Guineas Day, Damian Lane, only has eight rides after early scratchings but his book is headlined by Japan’s ruling Cox Plate favourite Lys Gracieux.
Craig Williams (11 rides), who collected the $100,000 Star of the Saddle on Stella Artois Caulfield Cup Day, Dwayne Dunn and Luke Nolen are the remaining jockeys that currently boast 10 or more rides across the two meetings.
As in previous weeks, the highest points scorer over the 18 races of the Cox Plate Carnival will be crowned the Star of the Saddle and win the cash prize, provided that they have not been suspended during the course of either race meeting for breaches of Australian Rules of Racing 131 (Riding Offences) and/or 132 (Whip Use).
If the highest points scorer is suspended for breaching AR 131 and/or 132 during the race meeting, the prize will be awarded to the second highest points scorer and so on until such time as the best and fairest jockey is determined.
In the case of a tie, the cash prize will be shared equally by those eligible riders on the highest number of points and a countback will not be conducted.
In the event of a dead heat, the points will be split as follows:
- Dead heat for first – first 2.5 points each, third 1 point;
- Dead heat for second – first 3 points, second 1.5 points each; and
- Dead heat for third – first 3 points, second 2 points, third 0.5 points each.
Following this weekend’s Cox Plate Carnival, jockeys will have one final shot at the title on AAMI Victoria Derby Day at Flemington on Saturday, 2 November, when $100,000 will be up for grabs.
The winner of the final Star of the Saddle on AAMI Victoria Derby Day will also secure a set of four race saddles from Peter Horobin Saddlery, valued at more than $3,000.