Cheer squad for debut

BRANDON Stockdale, a 15-year-old boy who was born to ride, will have a family cheer squad on hand when he makes his debut at Sale on Wednesday.

His dad Frankie Stockdale and grandfather Mario Farrugia have supplied the three horses (four if Come On Bill, the emergency in the last race, gets into the field) Brandon is booked to ride.

Proud dad Frankie may have listened to too many pre-AFL grand final coaches’ quotes with his pre-debut summary: “He’s ready to go,” he said. “He’s keen to get the job done.”

Frankie will be in the support team with his wife Julie and five-month-old daughter who also was named Frankie. So will Brandon’s grand-parents Mario and Faye Farrugia and Bill and Bev Stockdale. And aunty, Kerry Farrugia, too.

They bring so much racing history with them. Frankie rode on the flat at 17 and later switched to jumps riding where his wins included both Grand Nationals and an Australian Steeplechase; Julie was a successful picnic ride and once rode four winners at an Omeo meeting; Bill was a trainer and horse-breaker; Mario has been training for 50 years and Kerry was a top class jockey.

Brandon, who won’t be 16 until January 25 next year, will have his first ride in the third race, a Maiden Plate over 1740 metres. He starts his career in the deep end against senior jockeys who include Craig Williams, Luke Nolen, Vlad Duric, Michael Rodd and Michelle Payne.

His mount Pompeius, a last-start fourth of 14 at Cranbourne on September 14, is trained by his dad. And Frankie admitted he had done his best to kick Brandon off with a winner.

“Pompeius is in the right race and he is a big chance,” he said. “I reckon he is a nice first ride for the kid, but he knows it is never easy to win.”

Brandon gets the beginners’ bonus of a 4kg claim with each of his rides.

Mario also entrusted Brandon with a winning chances – Bully Paddy in the fourth race, the Maiden Plate (1110m) and Tanjil in the Showcase BM78 Handicap (1110m). Bully Paddy finished fourth of 12 runners over the same distance at Sale on September 18, while Tanjil was seventh of 12 starters at Cranbourne on September 14.

Stand-out main danger for Tangil is topweight (with 61kg.) The Quarterback, who last raced at Morphettville on May third when he started $3 and finished fifth in the Euclase Stakes (1200m.). The Quarterback has won more than $222,000 in just nine starts with three wins (one at Caulfield) plus  placings at Caulfield and Flemington (twice).

Trainer Robbie Griffiths said The Quarterback was the obvious class runner of the field but he was concerned that he race distance was only 1110 metres. “He takes a while to warm up and get into the race,” Griffiths said. “He has not won at a distance shorter than 1200 metres.”

He said The Quarterback was running at Sale because it was a big track with only one corner to negotiate. The sprinter would have his next start over 1300 metres at Seymour before his target, a restricted 0-90 sprint (1400m.) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day.

The stable prepared last year’s winner of that race (Chile Express) and had previously won it with Danzylum.

Griffiths said he had seen Brandon Stockdale riding in trials and jump-outs and had been impressed. “He sits on well and he has the pedigree,” he said.

Sale Turf Club chief executive Wayne Pollock said racing people in the district had waited with expectation for the day Brandon would sport silks for the first time.

“We are delighted the family chose Sale for the big day,” he said.

There is no chance the kid will be late to the course … the Stockdales live opposite the racecourse entry gates.