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Wilson-Taylor's slot race odyssey

Wed 24 April 2024

By Jordan Gerrans

Slot race specialist Kyle Wilson-Taylor is eager to turn recent opportunities away from Brisbane into feature-winning rides come the Queensland Racing Carnival.

The 24-year-old will compete in his second slot race in the space of a fortnight when he lines-up in Sunday’s rich The Archer at Callaghan Park in Central Queensland.

The Group 1-winning pilot was on the other side of the country last weekend, partnering Kiwi Waitak in the lucrative The Quokka in Western Australia.

The lightweight hoop picked up the engagement aboard Waitak after he rode a Group 2 winner across the ditch with Grail Seeker for co-trainers Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott in the middle of March.

Wilson-Taylor is hopeful his recent trips to New Zealand, WA and now Rockhampton will build more contacts and connections that will turn into quality rides come the winter carnival of 2024.

But, first, Eaglemont for Murwillumbah trainer Matt Dunn is his focus in the $775,000 Weight for Age contest in ‘Rocky’.

The former champion apprentice rode in The Archer last year and says from his recent experiences’ slot races are a thrill to be a part of.

“It was great and obviously riding against the best jockeys in the biggest races – that is what I aspire to do,” he said.

“It was great to go over there and ride the Kiwi horse in The Quokka.

“The day was great and it was a great build-up to the event. The horse ran well.

“The Archer is similar to The Quokka as the people in the local area really build it up as an event – these races are great for a region like Central Queensland. I am sure there will be a lot of excitement this weekend.”

Eaglemont will fulfil the slot of Archer Park Racing on Sunday.

Wilson-Taylor partnered the gelding in a recent Deagon trial which led to his first-up assignment where the European-bred galloper finished fourth over 1200 metres.

He steps out to 1300 metres at Rockhampton.

Eaglemont is yet to win at anything shorter than 1500 metres.

Despite that and with the third edition of The Archer lacking depth, Wilson-Taylor believes his mount should be competitive.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the bookmakers have Eaglemont as a $21 shot with Strait Acer at the front of the market at $2.20.

“I think he lines up pretty well in this sort of race,” Wilson-Taylor said of his ride in the slot race.

“He is conditioned by a very, very good trainer who knows what he is doing.

“The race is probably short of his best distance, but he ran well the other day, and I am sure Matt will have him fresh enough to have a nice sprint in his legs on Sunday.

“He is a lovely horse and I rode him in his trial before his first-up run and he got back a long way in that trial.

“But, in the closing stages of the trial he was really good and passed the line, he was well in front.

“He is going well and he has had a run since then, the horse is going well and he will be able to make his presence felt.”

As well as The Quokka and The Archer, Wilson-Taylor has other experience in slot races.

He rode Count Da Beans for Tony Gollan in CQ last year, finishing a touch over three lengths behind the winner Alpine Edge.

The jockey also was aboard Mass Destruction in the inaugural King Of The Mountain on the Darling Downs a couple of years ago.

The strong O'Sullivan and Scott team have been regular players through the Brisbane winter and the hoop is eager for the association to continue in the coming months.

The stable claimed the Group 3 Rough Habit a couple of years ago with Dark Destroyer before just missing the money in the Queensland Derby.

“Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott are bringing over a couple for the carnival and it looks like I will be able to ride them,” he said.

“There is some big owners in one of the horses so I am looking forward to riding them both.

“I will give them a hand in their track work as well.

“That was the reason behind me going there in the first place, to New Zealand earlier this year.

“They are a great stable to be associated with and hopefully we can have some more success over the upcoming carnival.”

The Quokka runner Waitak will now head for a spell and Wilson-Taylor is keen to retain the mount when the gelding returns to the races.

The barrier draw for The Archer will be held on Wednesday evening.