Michael Dee after Shillelagh's Kennedy Mile win (Image: Racing Photos)
Just three weeks ago he was dumped from his first Caulfield Cup ride but 21-year-old Michael Dee could be one of the spring's feature-race stars by afternoon's end at Flemington on Saturday.
The Kiwi rider was all set to take the prized Caulfield Cup ride on Amelie's Star last month but following an injury to Admire Deus, was replaced late by the more experienced Craig Williams.
Dee won plenty of admirers for resisting any urge to complain about his fate of being over looked in preference for a senior rider, deciding instead to let his riding do the talking.
He did just that last Saturday when he guided Shillelagh home in the Group 1 Kennedy Mile and plans more of the same this Saturday after he got the late call-up to ride Gingernuts in the Emirates Stakes.
"It has turned around pretty quickly so that's good," Dee said on Friday.
In September, Dee won his first race at the elite level aboard Foundry for owner Lloyd Williams in the Metropolitan in Sydney and was awarded a Melbourne Cup ride by the Hall Of Fame owner in the form of Gallante last Tuesday.
But given his past association with David Ellis' Te Akau Racing - he was apprenticed with them in New Zealand for three months a few seasons ago - Dee said his latest G1 opportunity was a big moment for his career.
"It's probably more thrilling for me the idea of winning for Te Akau rather than the prizemoney I might win," Dee said of the possible $60,000 pay day. "It would be pretty big to win it for them."
Dee said he was a little surprised to get the call-up for Gingernuts following Hugh Bowman's suspension.
"When Hugh got suspended my manager chased the ride and I was lucky enough to get selected," Dee said. "The Group 1 wins make it a bit easier for them to select me. It played in my favour."
As for Gingernuts, Dee said he is well-placed to ride him.
"I've seen most of his races and I've spoken to Opie Bosson, who rides him in New Zealand, and he seems to be a fairly easy horse to ride," Dee said.
"He naturally gets back and we've got a pretty awkward draw so we might find ourselves back early.
"Ideally we'd like to be midfield but if not we can come back a little bit to find some cover."
Gingernuts' co-trainer Stephen Autridge was happy to give Dee his big chance.
"We've got no problems with Michael Dee," he said on Friday. "He was attached to our stable early in his career and he's ridden quite a few winners for us back at home and he's going as well as any of them."