Regan Bayliss celebrating aboard Redkirk Warrior in the 2017 Newmarket (Image: Racing Photos)
Regan Bayliss is hoping his upcoming three-month riding stint in Hong Kong will not spell the end of his great partnership with dual Newmarket Handicap winner Redkirk Warrior, who returns to racing in the Australia Stakes at The Valley on Friday night.
Redkirk Warrior on Wednesday drew barrier eight in the field of 10 for the Group 2 $200,000 feature and Bayliss, who takes up his contract on February 24, said that if the veteran can find his best form, he will seek permission to make a quick return to Australia to partner him in Group 1s.
"If an opportunity does come up in a Group 1 while I am over there, you do have the option to ask permission to come back and ride if it's a valid chance and we've had such a great relationship in the past that he'd certainly be a horse I would want to come back for," Bayliss said on Wednesday.
"The move means I'm definitely going to miss out on a few opportunities, but the big opportunity overrules all that. Going to Hong Kong and learning and honing my skills."
Redkirk Warrior has not won since his breathtaking defence of his Newmarket Handicap title last March but the 21-year-old said he felt the eight-year-old could recapture his previous form this campaign.
"He's a three-time Group 1 winner now and obviously he went overseas (England) and failed but if you go back through his record, all his best form has been in the autumn," he said.
"I'm happy with the way he's going. His trial was nice the other day. We're hoping he can be hitting the line hard in this race, if not winning, and then hopefully we can go onto the seven-furlong race (G1 Orr Stakes) at Caulfield in a fortnight's time.
"It's a competitive race for a Group 2. There are a number of horses that I have respect for. Brave Smash, Malaguerra, Land Of Plenty fresh and then there are the fit horses such as Whispering Brook.
"It'll be a genuine test for him."
Bayliss said the handicap conditions of March's Newmarket meant Redkirk Warrior was unlikely to chase an historic third-consecutive win in the sprint feature after carrying 57.5kg to victory last year.
"It looks like he's going to carry too much weight, especially now that he's a little bit older and there are these up-and-coming sprinters that are going to be very low in the weights," Bayliss said. "So they (Lindsay Park) have chosen a different path this autumn."