COVID restrictions shattered Keagan Latham’s dreams of reconnecting with Eleven Eleven at Magic Millions but the jockey is hungry to secure a worthy consolation prize at Canterbury on Friday.
Latham will help put the finishing touches on the Greg Hickman-trained sprinter’s lead up for the lucrative Gold Coast raceday when he lines up in the $150,000 Listed Christmas Classic on New Year’s Day.
The pair were due to reconnect on the Gold Coast next month as well but border restrictions and mandatory 14-day quarantine protocols when travelling to Queensland forced Latham to pull the pin.
It was undoubtedly a tough decision for the hoop to make after the pair combined for his biggest win on Australian soil last year, albeit after being awarded the result months later.
Eleven Eleven (yellow, red) was awarded the Magic Millions Guineas. Photo: AAP Image/Albert PerezSource:AAP
Latham was aboard Eleven Eleven when claiming victory in the $2 million Magic Millions 3YO Guineas last January following the disqualification of Alligator Blood.
“I had to tell Greg last week that I can’t ride him up there again so it makes me want to win this and hopefully set him up for his run up there,” Latham said.
“If I had to quarantine I would have lost 10 meetings and with the support I have from trainers with horses, I just couldn’t do it for the one ride.
“Two weeks in quarantine would have been bad for my fitness and weight as well but that’s just the cards we have been dealt.
“Greg was completely understanding but we are expecting him to run well on Friday.”
Eleven Eleven is the $4.20 favourite with TAB.com.au to win the Listed Christmas Classic after taking top billing with the scratching of key rivals Athiri and Southern Lad.
The son of Fastnet Rock arrives in the race in top form following a strong win in the $100,000 Magic Millions Wyong 3YO & 4YO event last month.
Greg Hickman trains Eleven Eleven. Photo: Mark Evans/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Latham will be forced to navigate from the tricky outside draw in barrier 10 if he is to repeat the success.
“Unfortunately he has been riddled with bad luck when it comes to barrier draws,” Latham said.
“Canterbury is the sort of track where it is important to have a good draw but he won really well last time on a similar sort of track when he was caught wide.
“He needs that room to be able to gallop.
“You can’t ride him where he is happy you have to ride him how the race is going because he is the kind of horse that needs some time to get going with his own space.”
Latham also pilots Amoretti (race four) and Majella (race eight) and gives both strong chances of featuring in the finish.
Originally published asJockey hoping to add Magic touch closer to home
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