A shy and incredibly humble young man from Hawke’s Bay on New Zealand’s North Island, jockey Michael Dee is loving his time in the spotlight on racing’s biggest stage.
And he is hoping his stellar spring continues at Flemington on Thursday in the 2500m Kennedy Oaks.
Having waited five years to post his maiden Group 1 success, the 21-year-old will be looking to notch his third in six weeks aboard Hiyaam – which is trained by his old boss Mick Price – in the three-year-old Classic for fillies.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going,” Dee told The New Daily ahead of his ride on the $21* chance. “Hopefully it keeps going in the same direction.
“Hiyaam is a good each-way chance. I’m pretty confident she will run the distance.
“She doesn’t have great acceleration, but she keeps going.”
In Sydney on September 29, Dee registered his first win at the elite level on the Lloyd Williams-owned Foundry in The Metropolitan.
In front of 87,500 people on Victoria Derby Day at Flemington last Saturday he doubled his tally, scoring on Shillelagh in the Kennedy Mile.
“Winning that first Group 1 was huge, a big thrill,” Dee said.
“I didn’t know how long it was going to take, so to get the monkey off the back was great.
“Then, I didn’t know how long it would take to get the second one, so to get it only five weeks later, and on Derby Day, was incredible. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Dee also rode in his first Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.
And while his mount Gallante finished last, Dee said it was great to be a part of the build-up, and is adamant the experience of riding in the great race will do him the world of good.
“It was really cool. All the stuff in the lead-up to the race was very enjoyable,” said Dee, who won the final race on Cup Day on Pedrena for Price.
“At least I’ve had a ride in the race now, I’ve had a taste of what it’s all about.”
Hiyaam will have her work cut out in the Oaks, with top filly Aloisia – a dominant winner of her past two starts and one of the stars of the Spring Carnival – set to start a short-priced favourite at $1.55*.
But as we saw last year, when Lasqueti Spirit won the Oaks at 100-1, anything can happen in this race.
Luvaluva, Pinot and Rimraam are considered the other ‘main’ chances in this year’s field.
Runner-by-runner form guide
Trent Masenhelder’s Kennedy Oaks selections:
1st. No.1 – Aloisia
2nd. No.2 – Luvaluva
3rd. No.4 – Pinot
4th. No.6 – Hiyaam
Other race tips:
TCL TV Stakes (Race 5): No.2 – Supply And Demand
Kennedy Plate (Race 9): No.6 – I Am Excited