Milestone chance for Dylan Gibbons

A perfect storm of opportunity and talent has paved the way for a trio of apprentices to make an unprecedented mark on Sydney’s riding ranks this season.

Tyler Schiller, Zac Lloyd and Dylan Gibbons fill second, third and fourth place on the Sydney jockeys’ premiership, trailing only star hoop James Mcdonald.

It is rare, if not unique, to have three junior riders not only excelling in the same arena at the same time but being given Group 1 opportunities on one of the country’s biggest stages.

David Payne, a champion trainer many times over in his native South Africa and one of Sydney’s most respected horseman, also happens to be a two-time champion apprentice and jockey in his homeland.

He believes Sydney racing is in the midst a golden era of apprentices who have come along at the right time given recent changes in the jockeys’ room, including Hugh Bowman’s move to Hong Kong.

“I think so and a lot of the jockeys have left Sydney. Hugh’s not there, (Blake) Shinn’s not there, Glyn Schofield has retired, so there is an opening,” Payne said.

“The three apprentices at the moment, Tyler (Schiller), Dylan (Gibbons) and Zac (Lloyd), they’ve got a lot of talent. They are all very good riders.

“It’s like all sportsmen. You get jockeys and jockeys, same as football players and football players. Some are better than others. It’s just the ability.”

Payne has stuck with Gibbons on Saturday to partner his top Tancred Stakes fancy Montefilia, who if successful will give the Novacastrian-born rider his first major.

Schiller got his last weekend aboard Mariamia in the Galaxy, while Lloyd is newer to the Sydney scene and doesn’t have a Group 1 ride at Rosehill, but he does have four mounts in stakes races, three of them for the powerful Hawkes stable.

Montefilia is on the second line of Tancred Stakes (2400m) markets behind Melbourne Cup winner Gold Trip and Payne expects her to be at peak fitness after her second to Dubai Honour in the Ranvet Stakes (2000m) last weekend.

“I am happy with her and she should have improved a little bit on that run as well, being her second run back,” Payne said.

“She won the Flight Stakes and won the Champion Stakes the next week so she is good on the back-up.”

Gibbons has partnered Montefilia at her past two starts, both in Group 1 races, but Saturday shapes as her most suitable assignment yet with the mare’s best run in the spring coming third-up over 2400m when she was a slashing fourth in the Caulfield Cup.

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