By Ray Thomas
February 04, 2009 12:00am
COREY Brown has spoken for the first time of his disappointment at being dumped as rider of Apache Cat.
Brown has seemingly been made the scapegoat for Apache Cat's recent string of failures, including last Saturday's flop when unplaced in the Lightning Stakes.
Damien Oliver has been confirmed as the baldy-faced chestnut's new rider next start in the Group One Australia Stakes on February 14.
Brown is widely regarded as the best rider in the nation and he has developed a wonderful association with Apache Cat, winning five Group One races from just nine rides.
He was diplomatic yesterday when asked to comment on his sacking but there was no mistaking the disappointment in his voice.
"I've been in racing long enough to know these things happen,'' Brown said. "In racing, you are only as good as your last ride. I'm not the first jockey to be dumped off a good horse and I won't be the last. But there are no hard feelings.
"This is their choice and that is the way it is - I'll cop it on the chin. He's been a great horse to me and if down the track I get asked to ride him again, I'd jump at the chance.''
Greg Eurell, trainer of Apache Cat, conceded it was difficult to be critical of Brown's rides but connections felt the time was right to try a new rider.
"Look, it is not like Corey has done anything really wrong on the horse, it is just that I'm not sure if the two are getting on particularly well,'' Eurell said. "Sometimes you just need to have a change.''
Brown, a runaway leader in the Sydney jockeys premiership this season, still has plenty to look forward to during the autumn carnival, including his booking to partner proven topliner Mentality in the Group Two $200,000 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
At Canterbury today, Brown is also booked to ride boom first-starter Little Surfer Girl in the Madura Earl Grey Tea Handicap (1100m).
The Chris Waller-trained Little Surfer Girl is a superbly bred filly by champion sire Encosta De Lago out of multiple Group One winner Special Harmony and was purchased by Bob Ingham for $1.5million at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sales last year.
Brown also tested some potential carnival contenders at the Rosehill barrier trials yesterday, winning four heats on brilliant Youthful Jack, Maribyrnong Plate winner Our Joan Of Arc and unraced youngsters Monton and Deer Valley.