Schiller Eyes More Group 1 Glory With Cup Hope Athabascan

By Ray Hickson

Doncaster Mile winning jockey Tyler Schiller says he craves that Group 1 winning feeling again and is quietly confident Athabascan has had the right platform to fire in Saturday’s $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m).

Tyler Schiller (Pic: Bradley Photos).

He’d like to see a firming Randwick track for the import to have his best chance but after working on the course proper on Tuesday he was pleasantly surprised with how he handled the soft ground.

Athabascan comes into the Sydney Cup with 52kg on the back of a closing fourth in the weight-for-age Tancred Stakes two weeks ago at his third run from a break.

“The track was pretty wet out there but he handled it well and I thought he quickened up really nicely for a stayer going to 3200m,’’ Schiller said.

“I don’t think he loves it wet-wet. It was wet enough that I didn’t think it would be to his liking but he was pretty sharp the last bit.

“He’s going to be fit, his Tancred run was terrific and I’m hoping he can lift that little bit.”

The John O’Shea-trained stayer, $11 with TAB on Wednesday, drew just outside the middle of the 17 horse field in the Sydney Cup and that was to Schiller’s liking.

“He’s going to be a horse that gets better with a bit of galloping room so I think the barrier suits him well,’’ he said.

“He’ll drop in, he’s probably best ridden a bit conservative. The pace of the race looks like he’ll get a nice toe along and if we can get him to the outside I think he will show a nice turn of foot.”

Back in October, Schiller rode talented filly Makarena to win the $500,000 Tapp-Craig at Randwick and will reunite to chase a Group 1 in the $1m Grainshaker Vodka Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m).

The three-year-old hasn’t had the best fortune in recent starts, particularly when badly held up before running fourth in the Emancipation Stakes two weeks ago, and Schiller feels she’s not far off a win if things can fall her way.

“She’s been a bit unlucky but I think she’s holding her form and hopefully we can get her into the right run,’’ he said.

“She’s obviously a quality filly, it’s a very tough race at Group 1 level but if she can knock that off she’ll be very valuable.

“I’m definitely going in with a bit of confidence.”

Schiller notched his third career Group 1 on Celestial Legend last weekend, where he had to get down to 49kg to ride the colt.

Despite the effort to ride at that weight clearly taking its toll he backed up a couple of races later to win the PJ Bell Stakes on Facile but this week has been a lot more normal for the popular hoop.

“I bounced back out of Saturday really well. Fingers crossed Athabascan can step up,’’ he said.

“I definitely want that feeling again.”

Tyler Schiller on More Territories (Percy Sykes): “She’s come along well, the track’s probably not going to be in her favour if it’s too wet. Hopefully it can firm up a bit for her but I think she’s a nice filly. She won in good style on debut, she may be a filly that’s better after a spell and comes back on those firmer tracks but she’ll go well.”