Vlad busy at Bairnsdale

VLAD Duric’s first race ride was in 1994 – he finished second in a Maiden Plate at Bairnsdale on a horse named Joyful Occasion.

On Sunday, 20 years on, he returns to Bairnsdale for one of his busiest days in the saddle.

Duric has seven rides on the eight-race card as he tries to regain total fitness and riding touch after two months out of the saddle after a track fall at Caulfield. He damaged a thumb so severely he could not hold onto “anything”.

His weight ballooned from 54 to 62 kilograms. After returning to riding little more than a week ago he can now ride at 56kg and is aiming to lose another 2kg to stabilise his riding weight at 54kg.

In 10 rides since returning after the injury he has ridden two winners (at Caulfield and Bendigo) and three placegetters.

It is no surprise that Duric quickly found form. Since his near-win on debut as a 16-year-old at Bairnsdale he has ridden 213 winners that have earned $9.6 million in stakes. His winning strike rate is 15 per cent and his rate for placegetters is a high 41 per cent.

During a three-year stint in Singapore he was twice runner-up in the jockeys’ premiership.

Duric is looking forward to returning to Bairnsdale.

“It’s a good track and often misses the heavy rain that hits Melbourne racecourses,” he said.

“But most of all I like to see the familiar faces of trainers and jockeys because I spent so much of my early career riding on tracks in Gippsland.”

Here is Duric’s summary of his rides on Sunday:

Race one, maiden plate (1200 metres) – Tan Tat Sun, three-year-old gelding, trained by Peter Moody:  “He is probably my best ride. He ran really well on debut at Caulfield. I have ridden him in track-work and he feels good.”

Race three, maiden plate (1000m) – Vonconi, four-year-old gelding (Shea Eden): “I trialled him the other day and he indicated he was ready to race well first-up.” Vonconi has had one start for a fourth of five runners at Warrnambool on January 14.

Race four, 0-58 handicap (1200m) and race 5, 0-70 handicap (1000m) – Day And Night and Projects, both trained by Shea Eden: “Both are seven-year-old’s and are looking for tracks drier than their recent races. Yet, Day And Night’s only win was on a heavy 10 rated track at Moe.”

Race six, 0-58 handicap (1600m) – Urgup, four-year-old gelding (Jason Petch), one win (over 1430m at Traralgon) from 10 starts: “Met with interference in the straight last start and was beaten less than two lengths. Should be competitive.”

Race seven, 0-58 handicap (1600m) – Gift From Heaven, four-year-old mare trained by Allan Douch at Traralgon, 10 starts for one win (Sale 1500m maiden on February 2) and has raced nine times on Gippsland tracks. “I don’t know the mare, so fingers crossed.”

Race eight, 0-58 handicap (2000m) – Excursions, five-year-old gelding (Jason Petch), 11 starts for one win over 1520m. (heavy track at Mornington on August 13, 2013). “That heavy track win must have been a weak race as he seems to need a drier track these days.”