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Beau Mertens hits lead in premiership race

An early Caulfield double has moved apprentice Beau Mertens into the lead in the Melbourne jockeys’ premiership.

Mertens guided Shaf to a last-stride victory in Saturday’s Arvanitis Philanthropy Plate before combining with Pedrena in the Pancare Foundation Plate.

The double has given Mertens 58 winners for the season, putting him one win clear of five-time premiership winner Craig Williams.

Williams, last season’s premier jockey, rode in Adelaide on Saturday.

Mertens is striving to become the first apprentice since Nicholas Ryan in 2004-05 to win a Melbourne jockeys’ premiership, with the season running until the end of July.

“I’m a bit speechless actually,” Mertens said.

“Going back to the start of the season I never thought I’d be where I am now.”

Mertens starts a careless riding suspension after Saturday’s meeting but doesn’t miss any metropolitan meetings.

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