Most recently riding back-to-back winners on Lucy’s Legacy and then Mackellar’s Love, on November 9.
Emergency Alison Smith Eyesaw for the eighth.
He’s a the self-confessed former ‘ratbag’ jockey who has been the upset king of the Western Racing Association Country Championships Qualifiers.
Jake Pracey-Holmes, 27, will be shooting for his third straight success in the $150,000 Qualifier at Dubbo on Sunday and if recent history is any guide he’s a chance no matter what he’s legged over in the 1400-metre race.
“That’s what everyone else has been saying. I just ride a horse the way it needs to be ridden and if it wins it wins,’’ Pracey-Holmes, who’s no stranger to Orange’s Towac Park either, said.
Pracey-Holmes will be riding a home-track hope at generous odds, he’ll be on board Clint Lundholm’s Sprezzatura, which opened at $21 but had drifted out to 51-to-one by early afternoon on Friday.
In 2017 the Gulgong-based jockey partnered the fairytale Bourke horse Stoneyrise, who was an outsider in early betting before starting $10, then backed it up last year with another upset on Good Host at $26.
“The trainer (James Hatch) was more confident than me on Stoneyrise,’’ Pracey-Holmes told Racing NSW.
“I was worried because he’d never been past 1200, had no trial and was first-up at 1400 so it was a big ask. But he said he’ll get back, find the runs and if he’s good enough he’ll win and that’s what happened.
“With Good Host it was a tough win because he was three deep the entire race. I just kept the momentum going and he was good enough to win.’’
It’s probably not a surprise that Pracey-Holmes doesn’t worry about what price his ride is in a race.
He considers himself lucky just to be in the position he’s in with a partner, Liz, and two daughters and steady work riding the country circuit.
While he has something of a racing pedigree, his grandmother Joan (Pracey) and grandfather Terry (Pracey) have been trainers, Jake grew up in Campbelltown away from a racing lifestyle.
He wasn’t what you’d call a nice person as a teenager.
“I should have been brought up in the racing game, I always said I wanted to be a jockey but I was always over in Campbelltown doing what everyone else did,’’ he said.
“I was a ratbag when I was younger. I was mixing with the wrong crowd. I was doing stupid things, fighting and drinking.
“I could either stay in Sydney and make nothing of myself or go to the bush and make something of myself.
“If I’d have stayed in Campbelltown I’d have been a bum.’’
After starting out as an apprentice with Clarry Conners at Warwick Farm he made the move west at 18 to give himself the best chance of making a life for himself.
He spent the bulk of his apprenticeship with Peter Nestor at Dubbo, though did return to Warwick Farm for a couple of years. It was during that time he met Liz and with their first child on the way headed back to the country.
Pracey-Holmes, who sometimes sports a beard and is currently growing a mullet, enjoyed a career best season by winners, 51, in 2017-18 and is on the way to matching it this season.
Sprezzatura ran sixth in the race in 2018 but has managed just one placing in four starts since.
Justin Stanley’s The Rouseabout is in a similar boat and was actually Pracey-Holmes’ first choice and the charge he’d have ridden had Stoneyrise not run, however he’d already committed to Lundholm.
Adrian Robinson will ride The Rouseabout instead, which Pracey-Holmes says will be a chance. He did suggest the early favourite, A Martin Placepick, is going to be exceptionally tough to beat though.
“I had committed to Clint and Sprezzatura but my original pick was The Rouseabout,’’ he said.
“I know his last two runs have been terrible, and so has Sprezzatura’s, but he’s always got back behind the pace and I reckon he is a natural leader.
“He gets held up and he finds nothing. But if you get to the front and get going when you want to get going he’d be a different horse.’’
“If A Martin Placepick starts I think it just about wins it myself. I think he is a nice horse and the way he won the other day at Parkes with top weight he gets in well at set weight,’’ he said.
“But anything can happen, they can get a bad run, you never know.’’
The $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m) is run at Royal Randwick, Sunday’s Dubbo qualifier jumps at 4.30pm.
Pracey-Holmes is also a chance to ride for Orange’s Alison Smith at Sunday’s meeting, should emergency Eyesaw get a run in the Dubbo Chamber of Commerce Benchmark 66 Showcase Handicap (1000 metres).
Ray Hickson writes for Racing NSW at racingnsw.com.au.
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