Cylinder faces stiffer Valley test in G1 William Reid Stakes

Beau Mertens has picked up the ride on Godolphin sprinter Cylinder in the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley.

The James Cummings and Godolphin team went on a search for a jockey to ride the last start Newmarket Handicap winner in Saturday’s Group 1 sprint.

With Damian Lane and Jamie Kah in Sydney for the Golden Slipper meeting at Rosehill and Ben Melham riding on I Am Me, Cummings and Godolphin were left to sort through their options.

Lane rode Cylinder in his return run in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington while Kah was aboard in the colt’s Newmarket win.

Melham partnered the three-year-old in a track gallop at The Valley on Tuesday and had been on standby in case connections of I Am Me opted to run that sprinter in The Galaxy in Sydney.

To further compound Godolphin’s woes was the retirement last year of Damien Oliver who rode extensively for the stable in Melbourne.

Nacim Dilmi, who runs the Melbourne stable for Cummings, said it was unfortunate that Saturday’s Group 1 race clashes with the meeting in Sydney.

“It is an unfortunate circumstance that they moved the race from a Friday night to a Saturday,” Dilmi said.

“You want to see big races on big race days, but clashes interstate is usually not a good thing.

“We saw Jamie Kah on the weekend, and she said that whoever rides Cylinder will only be warming up the seat.”

Mertens only returned to riding last Saturday after being injured in a fall at Stony Creek.

He had been in great form prior having notched a Caulfield double just days before his fall.

Cylinder carried 51.5kg when successful in the Newmarket Handicap and was in receipt of 6.5kg from the runner-up Imperatriz.

In Saturday’s race, Cylinder now gets 0.5kg from that mare under the weight-for-age conditions.

“It’s going to be a tough assignment,” Dilmi said.

“He goes up in weight, but he galloped at Moonee Valley, and it was pretty good. He seemed to handle the track pretty well, so overall, we’re pretty happy with him.

“He had the advantage at the handicap last start winning the Newmarket, but he’s definitely come on since his win and he’s improved in his work.”

Cylinder’s sire Exceed And Excel was retired after winning the Newmarket as a three-year-old, but Dilmi said a Group 1 weight-for-age victory would add further weight to his future as a potential Godolphin sire.

“He’s won a Newmarket as a three-year-old and he’s by Exceed And Excel who recently retired from stud duties, so he’s going to be the next progeny of Exceed And Excel going to stud,” Dilmi said.

“We’re hoping adding another Group 1 will help him out.”

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