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Jockeys up for challenge in origin series

Michael Walker is proud to be riding for his country in the Origin Jockey Series at Eagle Farm.

The Melbourne-based jockey will represent New Zealand in the first round of heats in the three-meeting series in Brisbane on Saturday as the kiwis aim for a second series win.

“I’m really looking forward to it and I think it will be a great experience,” Walker said.

“I’m representing my home country and hopefully I don’t let the country down.

“New Zealand won it last year. They were back on the last day and Damian Browne got maximum points and got the team up.”

Walker rides Old Tex in the first heat on Saturday, a Class Three Plate over 1600m and also Dame Destiny in a Benchmark 85 race over 1200m.

Fellow Melbourne rider Chris Symons, who has played a helping hand in organising jockeys for the series, represents Victoria.

“My involvement is with my relationship with the jockeys and it’s easier for me to contact them and get them involved,” Symons said.

“We started working on this two-and-a-half months ago as it can be hard getting jockeys because of commitments at the WA carnival and also in Hong Kong.”

Symons said jockeys of the calibre of Damien Oliver, Brad Rawiller, Noel Callow, Kerrin McEvoy and the Parnham brothers, Steven, Brad and Chris, had all committed to the series.

“We were hoping to get Michelle Payne but because of the mix-up with her licence we couldn’t get her at the the time as all the jockeys had been locked in,” Symons said.

“I’m sure she would have loved to have been involved.

“It’s something different and it’s good that they’re showing some initiative and creating interest elsewhere.”

The series moves from Eagle Farm on Saturday to Doomben on December 24 and winds up at the Gold Coast on January 7.

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