Racehorse trainers never forget their first winner. In Craig Weeding’s case, the taste was extra sweet at Queanbeyan on Saturday as it came chocolate coated!
The 34-year-old Hawkesbury trainer’s breakthrough victory arrived in the Maiden Plate (1600m), courtesy of his four-year-old Chocolate Coated; a mare he has had plenty to do with. The daughter of Star Witness was sold as Lot 526 for $60,000 to owner Troy Sargent at the 2015 Australian Easter yearling sale at the old Newmarket complex.
“I broke her in for Troy, so it was terrific to win my first race with her,” a delighted Weeding said. Chocolate Coated is not only well-bred, but also well named. She is out of Cashew, a Royal Academy mare who had only four starts (for a minor placing at Ballarat) before being retired to stud.
Chocolate Coated was her fourth foal, and she spent some time early in the stables of both a leading Sydney and country trainer without racing before her owner asked Weeding if he would like to take her on. “Troy stayed in the lease, and allowed me to get some of my former schoolmates involved as well,” Weeding said.
After taking out his licence toward the end of the 2015-16 season, Weeding had only three runners. He has since had just over 30 runners for five placings. Chocolate Coated was responsible for three of them and the others were Agent (Taree) and Chekkapen (Cessnock).
“I’ve been breaking in horses for quite a while, and still do that as well as pre-train for others,” Weeding explained. “At present, I’ve got six horses in work at Hawkesbury and, naturally, would like to build up my stable.”
Chocolate Coated was third over 2300m at the Bong Bong picnic meeting last November, and was runner-up over 2000m at Bathurst on December 23 before Weeding gave her a freshen-up with Saturday’s assignment in mind.
Jockey Brodie Loy rode to a pre-arranged plan, taking off on the mare mid-race after she had settled last soon after the start. Chocolate Coated ($4.40) swept around the field to hit front approaching the 600m, and took a clear lead into the straight. She held on long enough to stall off Miss Demi Monde ($2.80 favourite) and Morning Music ($4.60) to break through at her 14th start.
“I knew she was fit from those recent runs over middle distances,” Weeding said. “Chocolate Coated doesn’t have a great turn of foot and Brodie rode her to perfection by getting a break before the home turn.”
Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Terry Croft and apprentice Chelsea Ings also went bush on Saturday and combined for a victory at Parkes. Ings rode a well-judged race to score on the Croft-prepared $14 chance Sega Dancer in a 1600m Maiden Plate. It was the 43rd win of her career, and her 20th in a benchmark season which is only six months old.
She had the Spinning World five-year-old away smartly and settled him in second place, retaining the inside running, behind leader We Love Rugby before taking the lead approaching the home turn. Sega Dancer held on gamely to defeat Islamax ($5) and Summer Surf ($26).
Named after a popular Mauritian dance, Sega Dancer began his career on the NSW South Coast and had seven starts without placing before joining Croft’s team. He was having his sixth start on Saturday for his new trainer, and had been placed twice at Orange and at Kempsey on January 9 before his Parkes breakthrough. Sega Dancer also gave Croft his first winner at Parkes, although he has had only a couple of starters there.