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Ryan Maloney chasing Socks-ess on Oaks Day

Thu 6 June 2024

By Andrew Smith

Ryan Maloney will be determined to add to his Group 1 tally when he partners Socks Nation in Saturday's Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm.

The jockey has three victories at the top level to his name, securing his first G1 win in the 2020 Australian Guineas on Alligator Blood, before taking out the Surround Stakes on Sunshine In Paris in last year’s autumn.

His third came in last year’s Doomben Cup, helping to make it back-to-back Cup wins for Huetor.

Currently sitting third in the Brisbane Metropolitan Premiership, Maloney is looking to cause an upset in the $700,000 feature race.

Making the move to the Sunshine State in 2018, the former Victorian-based hoop has been buoyed by the quality of the competition on offer in his adopted home state during the Queensland Racing Carnival.

“Certainly the numbers have been there with big fields, the crowd attendance has been up and the weather has been kind enough too, so hopefully that continues,” Maloney said.

“Prize money attracts a lot better quality too - in recent years, the quality hasn’t quite been as strong, but this year it’s been a bit of a standout so I think that’s been the main reason behind it.”

Maloney will be on board for the Ciaron Maher-trained Socks Nation in the Group 1 at Eagle Farm this weekend.

The filly was fourth over the 1800m trip at Randwick first up after a spell on May 25, and will make the step up to the 2200m Oaks on Saturday.

“She’s held her consistent form - she ran fourth the other day, and I think she’s looking for the trip,” Maloney said.

“You certainly can’t rule any of the other horses out, I think it’s a very open Oaks this year.

“Her form is certainly good enough to run a drum, if not feature and I’m quite confident.”

Socks Nation was a $61 shot as of Thursday morning and will jump from barrier 11, with the money sitting with $3.60 favourite Scarlet Oak.

Maloney will also ride the Maher-trained Miss Trustful in the Listed The Phoenix for two-year-olds.

He will also team up with Power Ballard for the Queensland Day Stakes, who he partnered in trackwork at Eagle Farm on Tuesday morning.

The filly from the Gai Waterhouse-Adrian Bott stable will be looking to bounce back from finishing well outside the money in last month’s Darby McCarthy.

“I thought her work was really sharp, she’s fit,” Maloney said.

“I don’t think you can read too much into her first-up run when the rail was no good, but I can only go on what I felt this morning and it’s another sort of open race again Saturday.

“She draws a gate, she makes her own luck going forward so I’m sure she gets the right run in transit, she’ll be thereabouts.”

Fellow hoop Angela Jones also has a strong book of rides for Saturday’s Oaks Day.

Partnering Sunset Soiree in the Benchmark 90 Handicap, the rising star will be looking to go back-to-back with the four-year-old after scoring a win in last weekend’s Benchmark 85 Handicap on Derby Day.

Her main target though is the Group 2 Moreton Cup, in which she will saddle up on Zarastro.

Trainer Tony Gollan has indicated he may use the ballot exemption from a Moreton Cup win to run the gelding in next week’s Stradbroke Handicap.

Jones believed Zarastro was primed for a big performance after finishing fourth in the BRC Sprint two weeks ago, having led the field with under 200m to go.

“I thought his last run was great - his first two runs this prep were probably a little bit ordinary but it was good to see his last run in the BRC Sprint,” Jones said.

“He was back to his best form - he led out, he gave a really nice kick and he ran a nice fourth, only beaten by 1.5 lengths.

“I’m keen to see him step out at Eagle Farm, and I think he’ll run a nice cheeky race and hopefully we’ll get a good track for him.

“He likes a good track and should be right there in the finish hopefully.”

Having completed her apprenticeship in August 2023, the twenty three-year old has picked up where she left off in joining the senior ranks, sitting in sixth in the metro jockey’s title race.

Jones admits she’s still getting used to taking a back seat to the influx of southern jockeys for the winter campaign.

“It’s been good so far, it’s always exciting but it’s harder, and you just got to get used to having less rides,” she said.

“I’ve been getting a couple of rides every Saturday which is good, I know it’s harder but it was good to get a winner last Saturday.

“Just to have three or four rides every Saturday is great and I’m just happy to be there on the days.”

Jones will also ride Black On Beauty, Steady Ready and Rose Noir on Saturday.