Wagga jockey Nick Heywood is closing in on his first Southern District Racing Association (SDRA) jockey’s premiership.
Ten SDRA meetings remain for the season and Heywood has opened up a four-win lead over Wagga apprentice jockey Rebeka Prest and Canberra-based hoop Simon Miller.
Prest and Miller lead a large chasing pack with just four wins separating nine different jockeys.
Josh Richards sits in outright fourth position in just his first full season of riding.
Heywood, 22, will try to keep the lead off his mind approaching the final stages of the season.
“It’s a handy lead but you have still got to treat it like any other meeting and try and get as many winners as possible,” Heywood said.
“I like to keep my strike rate up there.”
Heywood won the SDRA apprentice jockey’s title in 2015-16, when he finished second to John Kissick in the overall premiership.
He then went to Sydney to finish his apprenticeship with Peter and Paul Snowden.
Heywood has returned to Wagga for his first year as a senior rider and would love to win the SDRA premiership.
“For sure, any premiership is good to win because you have got to be riding winners,” he said.
“It would be good to get my name in the books because it doesn’t matter where you are after, you’re always going to be down as a premiership winner.”
In a twist in the race home, Heywood will miss at least three of the final 10 meetings.
He misses Tuesday’s race meeting at Corowa due to suspension and will miss Wagga and Albury meetings due to a holiday.
Prest will return from suspension at Corowa to begin the chase, while Miller will be back in the saddle after a month-long suspension next week.
While Heywood enjoys a lead, his father Chris has plenty of chasing to do in the trainer’s premiership.
Wagga trainer Trevor Sutherland has a six-win lead as he looks to record a fourth SDRA premiership.
Heywood and Wodonga trainer Craig Widdison lead the chasing pack.
SDRA 2017-18 premierships
26 – Nick Heywood
22 – Rebeka Prest (a), Simon Miller
20 – Josh Richards (a)
19 – Nick Souquet, Kayla Nisbet, Bryan Murphy, Mathew Cahill
18 – Brooke Sweeney (a), Chelsea McFarlane (a)
24 – Trevor Sutherland
18 – Chris Heywood, Craig Widdison
17 – Scott Spackman
16 – Phil Sweeney