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Nolen focused and flying in the saddle

A statue featuring Luke Nolen was unfurled at Caulfield Racecourse last Saturday but the three-time Melbourne premiership-winning rider isn't absorbed in events of the past.

Nolen is instead focused on the present and believes he has 'never worked harder' in his bid to reestablish himself among Melbourne's leading jockeys.

Results in the first three weeks of the new season support Nolen's assertions.

He has been aided in part by reigning champion Craig Williams enjoying a three-week holiday to start 2019/20, but Nolen has ridden five winners, with three of them coming on 20/1 shots.

So Si Bon and Luke Nolen, picture Quentinjlang.com

Nolen steered the enigmatic So Si Bon to success in the Group 3 Aurie's Star Handicap (1200m) on August 10 and has twice guided Kalashani Lad to upset wins, the latest of those at Sandown Hillside on Wednesday, which also resulted in an eight-meeting careless riding suspension.

It was just his third suspension over the previous 12 months, with stewards classifying the interference in the low range.

Nolen's golden years in the saddle came as first choice rider for Peter Moody, accumulating the bulk of his 37 Group 1 wins for the stable.

These days it's the training partnership of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig who are the main source of Nolen's best rides. His other city wins this season, Kalashani Lad aside, have come for Lindsay Park Racing.

Nolen has accepted rides at 55kg since the start of the new season, a light mark for the jockey who'd previously drop that light during carnival periods with big rewards on offer.

"It hasn't opened up many other doors yet but all you can do is stick it out and keep working hard," Nolen said.

Nolen had three rides booked at The Valley on Saturday, all for the Hayes and Dabernig partnership - Taraayef, Exeter and Good 'N' Fast. But his willingness to be riding at Caulfield for the Memsie Stakes meeting on August 31 meant that he relinquished this weekend's commitments.

Nolen is booked to ride up to five horses for Lindsay Park Racing upon his return, headlined by So Si Bon in the G1 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) and Peidra in the G3 McNeil Stakes (1200m), plus Long Leaf and Alfarris in open handicaps over 1400 and 2400 metres respectively.

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