O'Brien, Winks to continue winning form

Danny O'Brien and James Winks have hit a purple patch in the past couple of weeks and will be looking to continue their winning run at Saturday's Sandown meeting.

The trainer-jockey combination has notched five city winners recently starting with Code Black and Immortality at Caulfield on December 8 followed by Pride Of Westbury at Caulfield on December 12, Gallopin at Flemington last Saturday and Dartbolt at Sandown on Wednesday.

The pair also had a winning double at Kyneton on Thursday with first starter Cent To Rome and The Fonz.

O'Brien, third on the Melbourne trainers' premiership with 25 winners, behind Lee Freedman (40) and David Hayes (36-1/2), has six runners in five races on the eight-event card, while Winks has a mount in each race.

Winks, 24, has been riding for the strong O'Brien stable for the past 12 months, but the association went up a notch during the spring when the jockey rode Douro Valley brilliantly for second in the Caulfield Cup behind stablemate Master O'Reilly.

He has ridden 13 winners in Melbourne so far this season and nine of them have been for O'Brien.

"He came back from Singapore twelve months ago and put his head down and bum up and kept working and riding work to get his opportunities and every time I put him on a horse he rode it sensationally," O'Brien said.

"I personally think he's riding as well as anyone in Victoria at the moment.

"I'm a pretty hard judge but the guy doesn't give you any room to criticise. He just rides super and he works hard as well.

"He's a really good member to have on our team."

Other stables have taken notice of Winks' form this season which led to him landing his biggest win to date aboard the Bart Cummings-trained Swick in the Group Two Salinger Stakes, while he also scored on $26 chance Distant Melody in the Glyde Stakes for Geelong trainer Craig Conron, both at Flemington in Melbourne Cup week.

Winks will kick off the day at Sandown with unbeaten filly Code Black in the Show A Heart Hcp (1400m) following by another promising filly Stratella in the Imposera Hcp (1400m).

Code Black, a $210,000 yearling purchase in New Zealand, is a daughter of O'Reilly and has won both of her starts at Moonee Valley and Caulfield, but she takes on open three-year-olds for the first time at Sandown.

Last start she had a neck to spare over Stratella who was scratched from a race at Sandown on Wednesday to be saved for Saturday.

The Strategic filly won well at her only other outing on debut at Moe last month.

"The two fillies are obviously our main chances and we are hopeful they are going to go on to better races," O'Brien said.

"They are both stepping up to 1400 metres for the first time and they way they finished off at Caulfield you'd expect they'd run it out.

"We're hopeful they'll give us something to look for in better races, possibly in the autumn."

Winks will also ride Makeadreamcometrue in the Murcotts Driving Excellence Plate (1600m), Pride Of Westbury in the Salamander Hcp (1800m) and Fabric Of Dreams in the Sovereign Red Hcp (1300m), while Darren Gauci takes the mount on stablemate Escadaire in the same event.

by Mark Ryan - AAPRacing

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