Victoria leads the way at half-time of National Apprentice Race Series

Victoria has established a commanding lead at the halfway stage of the 2021 National Apprentice Race Series (NARS), which culminates in the fourth and final leg at Ladbrokes Park Lakeside next month.

After Alana Kelly had landed the spoils aboard the David Jolly-trained Bolt I Am in the opening heat at Murray Bridge (South Australia) earlier this month, her fellow apprentice Tatum Bull made it two from two for Victoria when she partnered Signal Hill to victory in the Tasmanian leg at Hobart last Sunday (16 May).

Those two wins earned Victoria the maximum return of 14 points, with Queensland currently in second place on eight points and South Australia back in third on seven.

Doomben (Queensland) hosts the third leg next Wednesday (26 May), before the meeting at Ladbrokes Park on Wednesday, 16 June brings the curtain down on the apprentice-only series. 

Victoria’s confirmed riders for the final two heats are Jye McNeil’s younger brother Logan and Madison Lloyd, who will fly the flag for their home state in the respective meetings at Doomben and Ladbrokes Park.

Victoria last won the NARS in 2018 and, having established a six-point lead over the chasing pack, Racing Victoria’s Apprentice Jockey Training Program coach Darren Gauci is hopeful of repeating the feat in 2021.

“Alana and Tatum both rode brilliantly to win the first two legs and Madison and Logan have hit some form recently, so hopefully we can keep our good run going in the last two races of the series,” said Gauci.

“The National Apprentices Race Series is a great way for our apprentices to travel interstate and learn how to ride on different tracks in different conditions, so the experience is far more important than the result but having said that, of course we’d love to win it!”

First held in 2008, the NARS is Australia’s premier competition for apprentice jockeys with points awarded for the top five placings in each leg of the series.

The winner receives seven points, the runner-up gets five, third place is rewarded with three points, fourth place gets two points and all unplaced riders receive one point, with the state that accumulates the most points crowned the overall winner.

After the final three legs of the 2020 NARS were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the series returned this year with an abbreviated program of four races featuring apprentice jockeys from Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.