Jockeys get charter flight to G1 meeting

Craig Brennan
Craig Williams, who rides Personal in the Slipper, will join other jockeys on a charter flight

A group of high profile jockeys will take a charter flight from Melbourne to Sydney to ride at the Golden Slipper meeting.

Racing Victoria has imposed biosecurity conditions on interstate travel for jockeys while coronavirus protocols are in place with the riders to use either private vehicles or private aircraft.

Sydney-based jockeys Hugh Bowman and Tommy Berry are being driven to Melbourne for Friday night's William Reid Stakes meeting.

They will then join Craig Williams, Damien Oliver, Mark Zahra, Damian Lane, Billy Egan, Michael Walker and Michael Dee on a flight to Sydney for Saturday's Golden Slipper meeting.

Williams, who rides Personal in the Slipper, flew by private plane to Sydney on Monday night and returned on Tuesday morning after partnering star colt Castelvecchio in a work-out ahead of the Group One Rosehill Guineas (2000m), one of five elite races on Saturday's program.

The jockey said the expense of the charter was better than the alternative of driving after The Valley meeting, something the jockey did two years ago.

"I had two drivers but it's very hard to get to sleep after competition on a Friday night at the best of times," Williams said.

"And trying to sleep in the back of a car, it's even worse."

Williams said plans had been in place for him to gallop Castelvecchio ahead of the Rosehill Guineas.

But with the growing risks surrounding COVID-19, Williams did not want to take a commercial flight.

"I spoke to Richard Litt and John Messara and they said they would love for me to get a feel of him," Williams said.

"They offered for this (charter) to be an option and that is how we found out about the plane for us jockeys on Friday night."

Williams has ridden Castelvecchio once before, finishing second to Lys Gracieux in the Cox Plate last spring and is eagerly looking forward to reuniting with the three-year-old.

"Going up there yesterday and working the horse this morning meant that I had a good sit on him," Williams said.

"And he feels like he's really coming into his own.

"He's now third-up, getting out to 2000 metres and his work this morning was impressive and I'm really looking forward to the race with him."

The flight will leave Melbourne on Friday night or Saturday morning depending on weather conditions and Sydney Airport's curfew and return on Saturday night.

The Lindsay Park-trained Personal is a $17 chance in the Slipper after drawing 19 in the field of 16 plus four emergencies.