FIRST: Apprentice jockey Elyce Smith will ride Mia Host in the Battle Of The Bush Final in what will be her first Brisbane race ride.
FIRST: Apprentice jockey Elyce Smith will ride Mia Host in the Battle Of The Bush Final in what will be her first Brisbane race ride. Matt Harris

Trio of racers have sights set on Eagle Farm fame

THE running of the much touted $125,000 Battle Of The Bush Final (BOTB - 1200m) at Eagle Farm racecourse in Brisbane on Saturday will provide three Central Queenslanders with the thrill of a lifetime.

Adding to the excitement of Emerald Jockey Club race caller, Bluff's Scott Power 51, chosen to broadcast the race worldwide, Rockhampton apprentice jockey Elyce Smith and Thangool trainer Damien Rideout will also participate.

Elyce 21, will ride the Rideout-trained Mia Host in the final in what will be her first Brisbane race ride.

Damien Rideout
Damien Rideout CONTRIBUTED

The trio - Mia Host; Smith and Rideout - combined to win a qualifying heat of the BOTB when it was staged at Thangool racecourse on April 6.

Smith again rode Mia Host to victory at Thangool just two starts back on May 25 over 1200m so she has a close affinity with the seven year's old mare.

In Saturday's 16 horse BOTB final, Mia Host is favourably drawn at Barrier 4 and Elyce sees the eight times race winner running boldly.

At her debut metropolitan race ride in such a high profile race, young Smith will line up against some of Australia's gun jockeys including Hong Kong-bound Blake Shinn; Jim Byrne; Michael Cahill and Jamie Kah.

"I'm both excited and nervous as it is such a huge occasion in many ways for me. Mia Host races on the pace and from barrier four she should be up with the leaders”, Elyce Smith said.

Smith was Rockhampton's champion apprentice last season and has been in-form riding 19 winners since resuming riding in February after being sidelined through injuries since the previous September.

While it will be a first for trainer Damien Rideout to tackle such a prestige race as the BOTB, it will be a case of de jevu for his father Rodney who is a part-owner of Mia Host.

Rodney Rideout is also the part owner of Belflyer who last October won the $1.3 million The Kosciusko at Randwick for Grafton trainer John Shelton.

Earlier, Belflyer was in training with Damien at Thangool before he recognised its potential and recommended sending him south for more opportunities.

Elyce Smith is in for a busy three days of riding as Mia Host's all important assignment is sandwiched between busy books of rides for her at Rockhampton.

At the bumper eight race Tatts Sprint program at Callaghan Park tomorrow, Smith is signed in for six engagements.

These include the Damien Rideout trained Mac's Mettle (Race 4 - TAB 7), a value chance in the Dooley and Bryant's Battler's Cup (2200m).

Some 94 horses have accepted to run at Friday's eight race TAB card with the first timed for 12.17pm and the feature Tatts Sprint, the last at 4.37pm.

Sunday's Tattersalls Cup races are being focused around the theme of a Family Fun Day offering free admission as is the case tomorrow. Entertainment includes complimentary pony rides; pony petting zoo; kids face painting and an arts and craft corner.

The RJC's Kelly Suli said there would be a special category of best dressed family in a novel fashions on the field with valuable prizes to be won.

Fields will be declared for Sunday's races this morning for a program which may extend to nine events.



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