Durden a spectator for Hiskens
By Robert Windmill aapracing
Champion jumps jockey Craig Durden has run out of time to be ready for Saturday's Hiskens Steeplechase at Moonee Valley.
Durden who won last year's Hiskens on Personal Drum has been sidelined the past two months after rupturing the ligament at the base of his thumb when Firestone had a fatal fall at Moonee Valley on May 19.
Durden had a pin removed from the thumb 12 days ago but rehabilitation has been slower than he thought and he may not resume riding until the middle of next month.
"I was hopeful of getting back for the Hiskens but after the first few days of physio it was probably going to be asking too much to get there," Durden said.
"I am still roughly two or three weeks away, possibly a little bit longer,"
"Since the pin came out last Thursday week I have been riding one horse a morning and I will probably step that up a bit this week.
"It is pointless rushing back because if something happened to go wrong it could be a lot worse than the first time."
Durden has enjoyed a great association with Personal Drum who won last year's Grand National and Hiskens Steeplechases.
However the nine-year-old has failed to recapture that form since returning from Japan in April and is faced with a tough task to defend his Hiskens crown against the rampaging Some Are Bent.
Some are Bent is going for an amazing, record-equalling ninth straight jumps win on Saturday.
Lots of Time (1969) is the only horse in Australian racing history to have won nine consecutive races over the jumps.
Some Are Bent won the Ian Macdonald Steeplechase at his last start and will have his last serious hit out before the Hiskens at Caulfield on Tuesday.
Pat Cannon, stable foreman for Robert Smerdon, said the horse had done exceptionally well since the Macdonald.
"He pulled up a treat and I think he is the best he has been all preparation," Cannon said.
That's an ominous sign for the horse's rivals on Saturday and for Michael and Alan Eskander's Betstar which is putting up a $100,000 bonus for any horse that wins three races in the 2007 Houlahan Jumps Championship as well as the Hiskens.
So far this season Some Are Bent has won the Houlahan, Lachal, Grand National Hurdles and the Macdonald Steeplechase.
No horse in 21 years has ever won three races in the championship and then been able to win the Hiskens Steeplechase.
Other Hiskens contenders will line up in steeple schools at Moonee Valley on Tuesday morning including Virvacity, who was third in the Macdonald, Kingston Scene and Spanish Symbol who both fell in the race, High Season, Swift Rule and Ginolad.
Ginolad was beaten just over two lengths when third in the Grand National Steeplechase to another Hiskens contender Clearview Bay and Swift Rule.
He ran third in a 2200m flat race at Warrnambool on Sunday.
Among other Hiskens nominations were Anyone We Know who was second in the Macdonald, and Conzeal who was fourth.