Luke Nolen has booted home a winner at his first ride since guiding Black Caviar to her narrow Royal Ascot victory.
Four days after his controversial effort on the champion, Nolen was in action at Caulfield where he resumed his battle with Craig Newitt for the Melbourne jockeys’ premiership.
Nolen wasted no time pegging back the one-win margin Newitt established during his absence, partnering the Peter Moody-trained Storm Burst to victory in the opening race.
But his share of the lead was short-lived.
Newitt scored aboard the promising Waterford Hill in the final event, taking his season tally of wins to 63, again nudging one clear of his rival.
Nolen has had a tough time since winning the Diamond Jubilee Stakes aboard Black Caviar.
He has been lambasted by some for dropping his hands 50m from the finishing line then desperately urging Black Caviar to the post when she was challenged late.
Nolen admitted to a “brain fade” but subsequent veterinary tests also revealed Black Caviar tore muscles during the race.
The top hoop only arrived back in Australia on Tuesday and made it clear he would not be discussing Black Caviar at Caulfield so he could focus on his rides.
Nolen will instead speak at a press conference on Thursday.
While the see-sawing battle between Nolen and Newitt took centre stage at Caulfield it was also a key meeting for two other riders.
Dwayne Dunn brought up his 50th win for the season aboard the Robert Smerdon-trained Glenmaura in the Design To Print International Handicap (1000m) and was delighted to reach the milestone.
“It’s been a great season for me, especially not having a big stable behind me,” Dunn said.
“I’m really happy with the way things have progressed.”
Apprentice Jackie Beriman was also to the fore landing her first city win in Melbourne on God’s Window for Shaun Dwyer.
“It’s my first city winner in Victoria so I’m very excited,” Beriman said.
Beriman is the younger sister of Nikita McLean, nee Beriman, who won the 2007 Group One Emirates Stakes aboard Tears I Cry.