Katsuto Yoneyama and Suntanned. Photo: Rob Barich sun0502b
Katsuto Yoneyama and Suntanned. Photo: Rob Barich sun0502b

Jockey keen to be victor

A HORROR fall has kept Japanese apprentice jockey Katsuto Yoneyama out of work for the past year.

His fledgling career riding in Innisfail and Townsville was ominously close to dying a painful death after the crash, until local trainer Mary Hassam heard about him.

The pint-sized jockey will return to the track today on top local prospect Suntanned in a bumper Summer Cup Open field.

Yoneyama has been with Hassam recently and, after a quick ride on the star gelding during the week, Hassam decided it was time for “her man” to literally get back on the horse.

“He’s a great guy. He listens to you and is a very sensible rider,” she said.

“It should be a safe ride to get back into it and a great opportunity for him.”

The jockey will be allowed 4kg off the original 65kg weight, but still will carry the most weight over the 1212m race.

“It’ll be good to have that little bit less, but sometimes a jockey can cost you that four, so it’s really cancelled out in the end,” Hassam said.

Horses from Gympie, Nanango, Eidsvold and Gladstone will compete, but it is Sunshine Coast’s Frisco’s in Charge that could prove the biggest threat.

Coming off some quality racing on the coast against horses like Three Tenors, Chilled and Silvern, the Trevor Thomas-trained gelding may well take a liking to the Thabeban Race Course sand.

“Trevor has had some pretty good horses in the past, so it might decide it likes it in Bundaberg,” Hassam said.

It has never set foot on the Bundaberg track — a huge disadvantage when looking at Suntanned’s amazing home-track record.

Hassam labelled Monte Primo and Red Roller as keen rivals for the $6500 first prize.

Monte Primo is coming off a win over the same distance in Bundaberg on Melbourne Cup day, while Red Roller is never far away.

“And there is always one that will pop up from some

where and steal the show,” Hassam said, referring to Nutuzzi, the horse that pipped Suntanned on Boxing Day.

The talented trainer has welcomed the track upgrade.

“When it rained the water was retained and it used to get slippery, but it’s much better now,” she said.

“You can’t have races without the track, so it (the upgrade) was absolutely worth the money.”

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