Nick Ryan’s hopes of a first Group One win in the coming weeks will likely to become clearer after the Underwood Stakes meeting at Caulfield.
The trainer has promising colt Express Pass in Sunday’s Group Three Caulfield Guineas Prelude on his home track while five-year-old Mahamedeis runs in a 1400m-handicap.
Both are being targeted at Group One races 13 days later, with Express Pass heading to the $2 million Caulfield Guineas and Mahamedeis the Toorak Handicap.
Ryan was a star apprentice jockey and won the 2004/05 Melbourne jockeys’ premiership, but a Group One victory eluded him with his closest result a short half-head second on Alinghi in the 2004 Empire Rose Stakes at Flemington.
As an emerging trainer Ryan has had Mahamedeis finish fifth in last year’s Group One Queensland Derby and he admits it is exciting heading towards feature races with the pair in the coming weeks.
“It’s been the long-range plan,” Ryan said.
“It’s getting close and they both look like they are live chances so it is very exciting. But there is still two and a bit weeks of water to go under the bridge.
“There’s no easy road to Group Ones as I know because I never rode one as a jockey.
“I know how hard it is but to win one as a trainer would be bigger, I would imagine.”
Express Pass has a maiden win and two stakes placings from three starts, including a third in the Group Two Danehill Stakes at Flemington.
That has come as no surprise to Ryan.
“From when he first came into the stable he has shown good ability,” Ryan said.
Express Pass has come up with a “horror draw” of 17 in the Guineas Prelude for which he is third favourite but at this stage he will take his place.
“The rail is out six metres, hopefully they are running on,” Ryan said.
“We really haven’t got much option than to settle back from that gate. I’m just lucky I’ve got a very good jockey aboard in Ben Melham.”
Mahamedeis comes back to 1400m on Sunday after his second in the Group Two Feehan Stakes three weeks ago.
“They are both spot-on. I couldn’t be happier with them,” Ryan said.
“Mahamedeis is back in trip which is some query and his grand final we’re looking at is the Toorak, but he is in a rich vein of form this preparation.”