Ritchie turns focus on Tasmania


Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie (pictured) will be breaking new ground this weekend when he heads to Tasmania to watch his stayer Roi d’jeu compete in Hobart.

Roi d’jeu was flown to Hobart last Sunday and will make his Tasmanian debut in Sunday’s Group III $A225,000 AAMI Hobart Cup (2200m). And depending on how well he performs he could back up a fortnight later, again in Tasmania, in the Launceston Cup.

“I’m heading over on Saturday night straight after the races at Te Rapa,” said Ritchie. “I’ve never even been to Tasmania before so will have a look around for a few days after the race.”

Roi d’jeu will be ridden in the Hobart feature by prominent local jockey Stephen Maskiell and will meet just nine opponents. “He gets in with just 55.kg on a 54kg minimum and only has to run up to his Trentham Stakes run to be a top chance,” said Ritchie. “He left here a fit horse and he’s travelled well.”

Roi d’jeu finished a close second to Six O’Clock News in the Trentham Stakes and that form stood up well as the fellow Cambridge galloper went on to win the Wellington Cup. Meanwhile Roi d’jeu was withdrawn from his Wellington Cup assignment because of the big weight he was due to carry.

“He would have had to run with 59kg in the Wellington Cup and he couldn’t win with that weight,” said Ritchie. “That’s also why he’ll probably stay in Aussie for now. He can run in the Lanceston Cup then go up to Craig (Ritchie’s brother) in Sydney and race from his stable there. It wouldn’t be worth bringing him back for the Auckland Cup and besides I don’t believe he’s a genuine two-miler (3200m horse).”

Roi d’jeu has had one previous trip to Australia and that was to Sydney last year for the McKell Cup, in which he finished fifth.

In his three starts since being freshened Roi d’jeu has been a winner, of the Thames Cup, and two seconds, the first being behind Veyron at Te Rapa.