Jack Hill aboard Beltoro (Image: Racing Photos)
Jack Hill is excited about a potential return to the Flemington winner's stall on Saturday but was stumped when asked to name his most recent winner at 'Headquarters'.
Hill paused for a few seconds to think before answering: "All I know it's been a while since I rode a winner at Flemington."
For the record, it was De Fine Lago in the Banjo Paterson Final on July 6, 2013. But he has hardly been inundated with opportunities since.
Beltoro, who will contest Saturday's $135,000 Lexus Legends BM70 3YO Plate, will be just Hill's second ride at Flemington this season and only his 16th in the past seven.
That is why Hill refuses to dedicate time thinking about his record at venues he doesn't get many chances at.
"It's not something I keep a diary on, because you can get a little bit down when you're going there (thinking) 'Why would I go there, I don't ride winners there'? So I just don't think about that sort of stuff."
Besides, Hill feels privileged to be riding anywhere given his career looked over when he was involved in a fall at Donald in March 2015 that left him in a critical condition.
The meeting was abandoned after Hill was airlifted to Melbourne with bleeding to the brain, which left him unconscious for a week, in an incident that left many thinking his life was in danger.
Yet, less than nine months later he was back in the saddle and on November 10 ticked off his latest career milestone when he partnered Lacrima to victory at Hamilton.
"At the start of October I had 12 winners to get to 600, and I was going through a bit of a rough patch at the time,
so I thought I'd set myself a goal to try and get the 600 by Christmas," he said.
"That happened pretty quickly and I'm up to about 608 now.
"Five years ago, I was probably riding the best I ever have and having a lot of success and then that tumble at Donald put things back a long way.
"When I came back, it just took a long time with a few more falls here and there, just to get my eye back in and get support again, but I'm getting great support and my manager Phillip Roost is doing a really good job."
Roost was forced to make a few calls to the trainers with horses at Saturday's Wangaratta meeting that he'd committed Hill to earlier this week after Beltoro's trainer Robert Hickmott bypassed Sandown on Wednesday to run at Flemington, with the ride Hill's if he wanted it.
"Rob saw the race at Flemington with the Super VOBIS money and it looked a nice race for him on a big track," Hill said.
"I was going to Wangaratta and Rob rang me and said, 'I think you should be getting off them and going to Flemington. He's a nice horse on the up and you don't want to lose the ride on him and not get back on him', and he's spot on."
Hill was aboard when Beltoro, a son of Toronado, made the perfect debut at Bendigo on November 26, powering to a three-quarters-of-a-length win over 1300m.
"When he won at Bendigo, he was really strong the last furlong, so I think the long straight at Flemington will really suit him," Hill said.
"I've worked him since Bendigo and his work's been stronger, he's been a lot more switched on and I think he's going to take a lot out of Bendigo going into Flemington."