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Ipswich Cup winner Shenzhou Steeds in the news

by Tony White

TRAINER Michael Moroney and jockey Eddie Wilkinson renewed acquaintances in the best way possible at Ipswich yesterday, the pair combining with Shenzhou Steeds to win the $200,000 Ipswich Cup.

The friendship and working relationship between the Kiwi pair goes back more than a decade.

It's great to be up here again,' Moroney said. Eddie [Wilkinson] was my stable rider for a couple of years before he went up to Queensland with Bruce McLachlan. We go back a long way. Wilkinson gave the four-year-old gelding a gun run.''

Coming with a well-timed finish, Shenzhou Steeds ($8) got the better of the Gai Waterhouse-trained Kinnersley ($2.40 favourite) to win the listed race by half a length.

Last year's Grafton Cup winner Warrior Within ($26) showed a welcome return to form finishing third 1¾ lengths away.

Moroney said of Wilkinson's ride: ''It was great. He rode exactly to instructions and came out to attack at the perfect time.

We've always thought he [Shenzhou Steeds] would run a trip and now he has. He's a nice big horse, our one concern today was the tight track but it all worked out great.

Shenzhou Steeds, a four-year-old gelding by Ishiguru, has a perfect record of four wins from four races in Queensland, including last year's Sunshine Coast Guineas. He likes the sunshine, Moroney said.

The gelding was purchased in a private deal in New Zealand for $NZ120,000.

There is a family element involved as well. Chad Ormsby, Moroney's former stable jockey in New Zealand, rang the trainer and alerted him to Shenzhou Steeds's ability.

Chad rang up and said, 'I absolutely murdered this horse but it still won, you should be buying it', Moroney said.

The gelding was eventually sold to Moroney, who syndicated it to a large group of owners.

Ormsby has since retired from the saddle, works as Moroney's New Zealand foreman and is married to his daughter, Aliesha.

Wilkinson, a man of few words, was reticent when approached for his views. When it was suggested it was a great ride, the humble Kiwi said: Mike put me on the horse, I've got to thank him for the ride, everything worked out great.

Moroney was unsure of the gelding's immediate future but he believes the horse should eventually get 2400m.

by Bart Sinclair

EDDIE Wilkinson is one of racing's nice guys.

So it was nice to see Wilkinson get a feature race win on Shenzhou Steeds in the Ipswich Cup on Saturday.

Wilkinson, by nature, is not a demonstrative person. He is quietly spoken, impeccably behaved and just never seems to find any trouble.

Yet he's also been a bit of a journeyman in racing.

After the Ipswich Cup, Shenzhou Steeds' trainer Mike Moroney clearly had fond memories of his early days training in New Zealand where his first No.1 stable jockey was Wilkinson.

That was more than 20 years ago and yet Moroney's recollection of Wilkinson remained strong enough for him to want the association to be rekindled.

Wilkinson yesterday chronicled his career journey from the time he left New Zealand to become stable jockey for Bruce McLachlan at Thornhill Park. That was in 1994 and he spent two seasons at Thornhill Park.

Why leave? "The first season we had a good run. Bruce won the premiership and I finished second by one win to Mike Pelling," Wilkinson recalled.

"But in the second season Bruce's team was getting a bit skinny. The poor jockey copped some of the blame.

"It was mutually agreed I move on and I transferred to Melbourne for three seasons riding freelance."

Wilkinson's big race wins in Melbourne included a Toorak Handicap on Umrun. At age 28 he received and took up an offer to join forces with Aussie trainer Don Baertschiger in Singapore. Wilkinson and Baertschiger enjoyed a fruitful and very close association for five years.A chronic ankle injury from a fall eventually led to Wilkinson returning to his adopted home at the Sunshine Coast to put his feet up - literally.

Wilkinson came to the decision he wanted to be a jockey again. Problem. The weight wouldn't come off.

"I rode trackwork for seven months and lost three kilos. I ended up on a detox diet and lost five kilos and away I went again riding in races," he said.

That was in the 2007-08 season.

Keep on keeping on, Eddie. It's nice to have you around.

[19 Jun 12]


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