It's not too often these days Greg Ryan gets to experience something for the first time in the racing game.
A champion jockey who's been in the saddle for more than 30 years and has 4000 wins to his name, Ryan has been there and done most.
But this weekend will be something new for the Dubbo-based hoop as he rides in the $1.3 million Kosciuszko for the first time.
Ryan made the trip to the city on Friday and will ride Ice In Vancouver for Tamworth's Cody Morgan in the world's richest race for country horses at Randwick on Saturday afternoon.
He knows he's an outsider in the country feature, but the chance to tick off one of the biggest races in the state in the late stages of his career is all the motivation Ryan needs.
"I've ridden in some big races before," he said.
"The Epsom and Sydney Cups and the Metropolitan but I haven't had much success in them.
"I went close in the Epsom one year but if I was to win this it would be the biggest.
I'd love to win a big race before I retire.Champion hoop Greg Ryan
Morgan is a rising star of the country racing scene and has three hopes in the Kosciuszko field, the most of anyone.
But the barrier draw did him no favours. Ice In Vancouver landed gate 12 of 14 while Ligulate (11) and Anethole (14) will also start wide on the track.
Ryan knows things will have to go near perfectly for him to spring a surprise in Saturday's event but he's also well aware of the quality of the unbeaten but lightly-raced Ice In Vancouver and feels "he's not out of the race".
The three-year-old gelding has only had the two starts but has won both, and Ryan was in the saddle for the most recent of those at Scone on September 8.
Ryan also had the ride in a trial win at Scone on September 30, the last time Ice In Vancouver was on the track.
"I've spoken to Cody since then and he said he's come on really well since that trial," Ryan said.
"Hopefully he can win the race but whatever he does, in 12 months' time he's going to be much better.
"You aim and hope to win but this horse is a good prospect.
"Horse racing is a day-to-day prospect but if he can stay injury free he's a long way from fully maturing."
While the race is for horses trained in the bush, Ryan is the lone country-based jockey in the field and will be going up against the likes of James McDonald, Glen Boss, and Kerrin McEvoy.
"I don't think it will change in my time but it would be good to see country jockeys," Ryan added.
"It's restricted to country trainers so would be good to see country jockeys as well and that's a good idea but it won't happen in my time and it's not for me to decide things like that."
Ryan has two rides at Randwick on Saturday and will also pilot exciting sprinter Emilette for Muswellbrook trainer Jan Bowen in the $100,000 TAB Class 3 Handicap (1100m).
Racing starts at 12.30pm on Saturday with the Kosciuszko at 2.50pm.
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