Jockey Will Gordon went from likely spectator to riding a key Grand National Hurdle chance within seconds of answering his phone on Wednesday.
Gordon was struggling to find a ride among the 10 runners Sunday’s $250,000 feature at Sandown.
But a call from the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable quickly changed his fortunes.
Maher and Eustace accepted with three runners.
Champion jumps jockey Steven Pateman chose to ride Saunter Boy while recent arrival Will McCarthy was booked for Wil John.
Gordon was thrilled to get the call to ride easy last-start winner Norway, a $3.10 chance in early Grand National Hurdle betting.
“It was looking pretty bare on rides but when I got the call, it was a bit of a relief,” Gordon said.
“I didn’t expect to be riding Norway in the National. But I’m not going to complain.
“When they have a third horse in the mix, it opens things up and luckily I didn’t have any other engagements so I was able to pick up the ride.”
The British jockey showed he could handle the pressure of big races when winning the Galleywood Hurdle on The Statesman in May for great supporter Brett Scott.
Gordon said support from the likes of Scott and Patrick Payne had been crucial as he established himself in Victoria after previously riding in New Zealand.
Grand National Hurdle contender Norway was a brilliant winner of the Brendan Dreschler Hurdle at Pakenham. Picture: Racing Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
The 25-year-old showed he wasn’t afraid of hard work, shedding enough weight to add flat riding to his bow on the advice of an owner.
Gordon had been in Australia for about eight months before following John Allen’s lead in mixing flat and jumps riding.
“When I looked into it and found I could get my dual licence and get my weight under control, I can ride 56kg on the flat, it opened up the door,” Gordon said.
Sunday’s Grand National Hurdle will be a great chance for Gordon to show his skills in the city.
Gordon plans to permanently stay in Victoria, buying a house in the Mornington area, with an eye on securing regular city rides as his flat style improves.
“It has really broadened my career riding on the flat because it used to be great for six months of the year, and the next six months I’d be just a trackwork rider and twiddling my thumbs,” Gordon said.
“At the moment, I’m happy riding in the country getting some nice opportunities.
“That’s definitely where I’m suited at the moment but riding in the city more regularly is something I’d love to do in the future.
“Once I’ve honed my craft a bit more and get recognised by bigger trainers, I’d like to ride a lot more in the city for sure.”
Originally published asGordon out to be the pride of Norway
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