You’d understand if Ben Melham didn’t want to 2010 to end. The emerging jockey continued his stellar end to the year when he partnered a winning treble at Flemington on Saturday.
The 21-year-old, who celebrated his maiden Group 1 success aboard Black Caviar in the Patinack Farm Classic at the same track last month, won three of the first six races. He finished runner-up in a further two races.
His got the ball rolling aboard the David Brideoake-trained Warm Love in the second event before riding two of Danny O’Brien’s three winners. Pins On Ice won the TAB Sportsbet Handicap (Race 3), while Impressive Eagle won the Cleanevent Sustainability Handicap (Race 6).
Melham – who also celebrated a winning treble at Moonee Valley on November 20 – said it was great to see his hard work paying off, but didn’t take all the credit for his success.
“You don’t get there without doing the hard yards and fortunately I’ve got a good manager, Matthew Alesci, who is on the ball,” he said. “You can’t do it without the rides and he puts a lot of time in doing the form and getting me on the right rides.”
Melham produced a gem of a ride to complete the treble with Impressive Eagle. He had her well-positioned in the running line off a fast tempo set by the well-backed Sheedy before sprinting sharply at the 300m.
The five-year-old daughter of Rubiton, who started at $5.50, had to withstand a late surge by Orbit Express ($9.50), but held on to score by a head with Okay Oky ($8) running into third.
Impressive Eagle atoned for a luckless run last start at Caulfield to make it two wins from her past three following previous Moonee Valley success, justifying Widden Stud’s decision to purchase her with a breeding career in mind.
“That was another excellent ride, he just couldn’t have ridden her better,” O’Brien said. “She only had a head to spare and the ride probably won her the race.
“She’s been a bit dependent on her luck on the day. She’s had four starts for us; two she’s had no luck and two it’s gone the right way and they’re the two she’s won.
“She’s won two races since the boys have bought her and on that, it was a good open-class field, we’ll probably give her a chance in the autumn in some mares’ stakes races.”
Impressive Eagle’s win completed a great day for Thompson, who also has a share in the Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra-trained Lucky Eighty Eight, who made it two Flemington wins in as many weeks with victory in the first race.
Where Impressive Eagle came from off the pace to win, Pins On Ice ran her rivals off their hooves. The heavily-backed Pins four-year-old ($5 into $4) was beautifully rated by Melham to score by 1.8 lengths from easing favourite Lady Gaga ($2.70).
Pins On Ice was one of two market movers for O’Brien, who won the last with At The Hands. The talented four-year-old returned to form with a strong win, justifying the punters’ faith in backing him from $6 into $4.40.
Jamie Mott steered At The Heads home by a neck from Dusty Star ($7.50) with Utah Saints ($12) grabbing third.
Melham was one of two jockeys to make multiple trips to the winner’s stall with Chris Symons registering back-to-back wins in two of the day’s feature events.
Symons first scored a last-stride in Bagot Handicap hopeful Butwaittheresmore in the $100,00 Cleanevent Handicap (2500m), before backing up with Éclair Mystic in the $70,000 Red Tempo Handicap.
The Robert Smerdon-trained three-year-old made it five wins in a row when he resumed with victory over Broken and Secret Flyer in the 1000-metre scamper.
The Red Tempo Handicap was also notable for the return of Golden Rose winner Toorak Toff, who settled last of the outside division and never looked a winning chance under his big weight (59kg) and had to settle for fifth, 2.8 lengths from Éclair Mystic.
Full results from Saturday’s Flemington card are available via the link