Blake Shinn back in the winning Spirit
Blake Shinn has secured his first win for the year when he guided NSW visitor Spirit Ridge to victory at Flemington.
The Annabel Neasham-trained former UK galloper took out the Vale Sir Patrick Hogan KNZM CBE (2000m) on Saturday under a well-judged Shinn ride.
Shinn spent the Christmas-New Year period on the sidelines courtesy of a couple of suspensions handed out by Racing Victoria stewards and only returned to the saddle at Pakenham on Thursday night.
The jockey was suspended for over-using the whip in a dead-heat finish at Flemington on December 17, a decision that saw stewards uphold their own protest, while Shinn had incurred a careless riding suspension just days earlier, pushing him to the sidelines from December 21.
A series of barrier trials at Tatura last week and race riding has seen Shinn slowly regain his edge.
“I’m pretty good,” Shinn said.
“Fitness wise, I’m pretty close to the mark, timing wise, we can improve on that, but hopefully that will come with a bit more practise.
“It’s great to be back out on the track.”
Tracking the leader El Gladiador, Shinn took Spirit Ridge, the $3.30 favourite, to the front with 300m to run and proved too strong for Swords Drawn ($4.40) with Stars of Carrum ($9.50) a further 4-¼ lengths off third.
Spirit Ridge did his early racing in the UK before coming to Australia in 2020, joining the stable of Mark Newnham, before transferring to Neasham’s care for his past three starts.
Shinn said it was a good fighting win by Spirit Ridge.
“He got challenged by the second horse around the 300 (metres),” Shinn said.
“It was a good battle, but he possesses good stamina and is a good middle distance staying type.
“Full credit to Annabel. She picked this race out today and to have him spot on, it was a great effort.”