Chris Munce is all smiles after riding Descarado to a win at Caulfield last year but will he be smiling after riding Essington on Thursday in the XXXX Newmarket Handicap.
Chris Munce is all smiles after riding Descarado to a win at Caulfield last year but will he be smiling after riding Essington on Thursday in the XXXX Newmarket Handicap. Robert Prezioso

Munce mount the tip

MANY a champion jockey has ridden at Rockhampton's Callaghan Park racecourse but it is doubtful if any can boast the record that Brisbane's Chris Munce will bring trackside there tomorrow.

Munce, who has ridden a remarkable 45 group 1 race winners, has been engaged by former Rockhampton trainer, the now Sunshine Coast-based Darryl Hansen, to ride Essington in the $75,000 XXXX Newmarket Handicap (1300m).

Likely race favourite Essington is owned by Marino Katsenevas, formerly of Gladstone but now based in Townsville.

Katsenevas would dearly love Essington to win the Newmarket to avenge the defeat of Iron Jug, the runner-up to Pocket My Pride in 2000.

Munce thinks Essington is capable of doing just that.

“He is a good little horse but I suppose the weight (59kg) is the big factor. I've won three on him in Brisbane so he goes well,” Munce said.

On February 12 at Eagle Farm, when first-up for four months, Essington carried 57.5kg in winning over 1200 metres.

In the Rocky Newmarket, it will have been three months since Essington last raced.

At Essington's only Rockhampton start, he was beaten first-up in a lowly maiden handicap (1050m) on July 15 last year.

Since then, Essington has won eight races – seven in the current season which has also been fruitful for ace jockey Munce.

Last October the New South Wales-born lightweight won the group 1 Caulfield Cup on Gai Waterhouse's Descarado.

Just a few weeks back, Munce again combined with Waterhouse to win the Brisbane Cup with Tullamore, giving him his fifth win in the feature trophy race.

“I suppose winning the big four group 1 races in Australia – the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups; the Cox Plate and Golden Slipper – would be the highlights of my career. It is impossible to single out any one of those wins. They were all so special,'' Munce said.

He won the Melbourne Cup on Jezabeel (1998); Cox Plate on Savabeel (2004) and Golden Slippers on Prowl (1998) and Dance Hero (2004). Feature race wins came to Munce at a tender age, such as the Gold Coast Magic Millions on Sunblazer in 1989 when he was 18.

While a Rockhampton Newmarket may pale into insignificance compared to his treasure chest, for Munce the assignment with Essington will inspire his competitive nature.