Highs and lows for top hoop

LEADING Cranbourne jockey Peter Mertens has won his share of big races, but is yet to salute in his home cup.
He is hoping to land a good ride in this year’s Cranbourne Cup and break his duck.
The popular and affable 46 year-old father of six has been is a veteran of just on 30 years in the racing game and has ridden for most of the big trainers and piloted some of the very best horses in the land over that time. He spent a few minutes reflecting on some of those highlights last week with News sports reporter Brad Kingsbury.

Best win: 2007 Australia Cup on Sirmione.

Best horse ridden: Subzero. I ran second on him in a Geelong maiden.

Horse I would like to have ridden: Kingston Town.

Best horse seen: Octagonal.

Best jockey seen: Mick Dittman.

Best trainer seen: T. J. Smith.

Favourite horse: Toss up between Big Pat and Sirmione.

Favourite track: Sale.

Worst track: Bombala. In the old days they had water pipe for a running rail!

Best moment in racing: My first Group 1 win (1999 Futurity Stakes on Rustic Dream).

Worst moment: Breaking my neck at Pakenham in 1988. I was out of racing for 14 months.

If I wasn’t a jockey I would like to be: A politician – we’re all full of bull!

Superstition: I always tell my girls not to put shoes on the table. It’s bad luck.

Four people I would like to have a drink with: Damien Hardwick, Miranda Kerr, Russell Crowe and my great mate who is no longer with us Greg Kernahan.

Funniest thing seen in racing: There’s been plenty, but the famous ‘seagull race’ at Sandown comes to mind.
I saw the seagulls on the track ahead and just went full steam and tried to run around them.
I ended up in ‘pit-lane’ on the outside fence, but I won that race by 10 lengths and they still took it off me (called it a no-race) because some of the younger jockeys pulled up.
As a matter of fact, I am always in the races that are remembered for strange and funny incidents.
I also won the 1996 Christmas Stakes on Pakenham horse Titian Moon, but no one remembers that.
They only remember that was the ‘jockey swap’ race, where Andrew Payne jumped off one horse and ended up finishing the race on another after Jason Paton fell off it.