King set for jam-packed Penfolds Victoria Derby Day

30 October 2021 Written by Tim Yeatman

Saturday is shaping as one of the biggest days in Rachel King's riding career.

The star Sydney-based hoop has made the trip down to the Victorian capital for Melbourne Cup week and is looking to kick off with a bang on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day.

King has six rides on the jam-packed card, including a mount in each of the four Group 1s.

"(I'm) really excited to be here and competing on such a big day," King said.

"I don't think Gary Portelli would be bringing him down here if he didn't think he had a chance, I think the step up in trip should hopefully help him, drawn a nice gate," King said.

"It's obviously a very competitive race as always but he's definitely earnt his place to be in the race."

There'll be a sense of familiarity for King in the G1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) when she jumps back aboard the Matt Smith-trained Nimalee, a horse the 31-year-old rider has partnered to G2 success in Sydney.

"She's one of my favourites that's for sure," King said.

"I thought her last run was good, she looked like she got a little bit uncomfortable going around Caulfield, once she straightened up, she finished off really well."

In the penultimate race, the Cantala Stakes, King has been booked to ride the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Riodini, after the pair narrowly missed out on a G1 win two starts ago.

"I trialled him the other day and he seemed to have that freshness back in him again," she said.

On Tuesday, King will be hoping to become just the second female jockey, after Michelle Payne, to win the Melbourne Cup.

"I'll try and take it in as much as possible and appreciate the moment and try and remember everything," King said.

It would be a dream come true for the England-born hoop, who will ride the Lloyd Williams-owned Pondus.

And her dedicated family is sure to be cheering on with pride from the other side of the world.

"Dad wants to get up and have a party about 3 o'clock in the morning, luckily they live in the middle of nowhere and don't have any neighbours, they've been inviting everyone to come and stay and get up," King said with a laugh.