Opperman gets Group 1 chance on Royal Mile in SA Derby
Jacob Opperman had only just started riding at this time last year but the rising star apprentice’s rapid accent through the South Australian ranks will be complete this Saturday when he rides in his first Group 1.
The 17-year-old talent is set to pilot the Lee Creek-trained Royal Mile in the $500,000 Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville.
Opperman, who is the son is the son of trainer Jamie Opperman, only had his first race ride at Mount Gambier last year on April 22.
His first winner came not long after that on May 3 at Bordertown – a year to the day on Monday.
Since then Opperman has piloted a total of 65 winners but none have been more significant than the five he’s had aboard impressive three-year-old Royal Mile.
The pair have recently combined for four consecutive victories, providing Opperman with his maiden black type win in the Listed Port Adelaide Guineas before a last start Group 3 triumph in the Chairman’s Stakes.
The success has provided the platform for a maiden Group 1 assault for both horse and apprentice.
“I didn’t think it would come up so quick and the horse has come up quickly too,” Opperman said.
“I’ve only been in my apprenticeship 18 months after going through apprentice school and probably only riding for just over 12 months.”
“It‘s a really big chance.
“Probably haven‘t really thought about it too much yet because I’ve got to ride at Warnnambool on Tuesday then Murray Bridge on Wednesday then back to Warnnambool so it’s a busy couple of days before then.
“At the moment it‘s just in the back of the mind.”
Creek and owner Rob Dycer have kept faith in Opperman despite having the option of putting on a more seasoned jockey as Royal Mile has risen through the grades.
Royal Mile at Morphetville. Picture: Atkins PhotographySource:Supplied
Opperman has piloted Royal Mile in all eight of his starts for five wins and three seconds including a last start Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes triumph at Morphettville.
“The owner Rob said to Lee after I rode him the first couple of times that he wanted to keep me on because I know the horse so well and we can‘t change the horses routine or my routine,” Opperman said.
“I am grateful to be given the chance.
“He (Royal Mile) hasn’t gone outside the top two his whole career and each time he has stepped up especially his past few runs in Adelaide.
“It was good for me and good for Lee to win the other day and hopefully now he can get the Group 1.”
Royal Mile is coming off a new career high in the Chairman’s despite being forced to take an unfamiliar leading role in the traditional Derby lead up.
“I just had to elect to go forward from the wide gate but knew I had the horse under me,” Opperman said.
“I was able to go the tempo I wanted to and when they started to attack me just before the corner, I knew how he could sprint off that sort of tempo.
“While it didn’t go to plan, it kind of day go to plan when I found the front.”
Royal Mile is a $10 chance to win the SA Derby with TAB fixed odds with the final field and barrier draw to take place on Tuesday.
Originally published asStar apprentice riding wave to Group 1 shot
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