BALLARAT trainer Darren Weir has turned to Ben Melham to ride Puissance De Lune in Saturday’s $3 million Cox Plate, 2040 metres, at Moonee Valley.
Melham replaces Glen Boss, who yesterday failed in an appeal to the Victoria’s Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board against a suspension.
Boss was hoping to get a 12-meeting ban reduced to allow him to fulfil his engagement on Puissance de Lune, which yesterday drew barrier eight.
Melham and Weir have a long association.
Originally from Ballarat, Melham began his career as an apprentice with Weir and has ridden more winners for the Ballarat stable than any other.
Weir and Melham have already combined for two group 1 victories - each with sprinting mare Platelet.
However, a Cox Plate win would exceed anything either has done in racing.
Melham has not ridden Puissance de Lune in a race - that honours goes to Boss, Brad Rawiller, James Winks and Nick Hall in his the French import’s 13 Australian starts.
However, Melham did yesterday make the trip to Warrnambool, where Puissance de Lune is trained out of Weir’s satellite stable, to ride the six-year-old in a track gallop in case the Boss appeal failed.
This is not the first time Melham has received a call-up to take one of the biggest rides of a Melbourne Spring Carnival.
He rode champion mare Black Caviar to victory in the 2010 group 1 Patinack Classic at Flemington when Luke Nolen was suspended.
Just three jockeys rode Black Caviar in her unbeaten career of 25 starts, with Jarrod Noske in the saddle for her first two starts and Nolen 22 times and Melham once.
Melham has ridden seven Melbourne metropolitan winners this season to be eight on the premiership table.
The Boss appeal and Melham booking were part of a massive day in racing news, with the biggest being the scratching of champion mare Atlantic Jewel from the Cox Plate.
With Atlantic Jewel out, Its A Dundeel is the new favourite with TAB.com.au at $4 fixed odds. Puissance de Lune is second favourite at $4.40 ahead of Fiorente $4.60.