By Doug Ryan
Jockey Matthew McGuren thought he ran third and was surprised to see Taree gelding Sniponet had inched out his rivals to win the Manning Valley Born State of Origin Winners Class 1 & Maiden Plate (1614m) at Taree on Sunday.
The four-year-old had placed nine times (along with a win) in 16 starts and he thought the just beaten record had been maintained. Much to the delight of trainer Wayne Wilkes, owner Jarryd Cook, and the punters who backed the galloper from $2.15 to $1.85, Sniponet had lasted by a half-head from Wauchope’s Baradone Bound ($31), with a similar margin to Eye Was ($14) from Coffs Harbour.
“About time he won,” a relieved Wilkes said of his honest galloper. “While he keeps trying, I will continue to race him. It is only his fourth or fifth run this campaign and he retains his zest.”
Sniponet was scratched from a better class race and it was probably the best for the gelding as he was probably still suffering from a hard race when fourth in the Wauchope Cup at Port Macquarie on June 17.
The other race, the Boyd Cordner Benchmark 63 Handicap, was won by nine-year-old gelding Crossing Guard ($6), ridden by Josh Adams for Newcastle trainer Paul Perry. Owner Christie Perry said the six-time winner bought for $900 as a yearling was a real family favourite and was suited by the wet track. In her arms was eight-week-old Chase, having his first race visit, along with her other two children, Cienna, 7, and Reilee, 15.
Adams said he felt his mount was “a winner a long way out ... I just needed a split in the straight to come through along the fence.” Warwick Farm gelding Mister McIlroy ($5.50), trained by Garry Neale, was given every chance but faded to fourth in the same race.
Adams had a winning double on two-year-old gelding Asudem ($5.50), trained at Muswellbrook by Luke Thomas, having only its third start and taking on older gallopers in the Farewell Drew Smith Maiden Plate over 1257m.
Five-year-old mare Lobban Hood ($3.40) again showed her liking for the track and conditions with a neck win for owner-breeder-trainer Robert Barnes and Wauchope jockey Belinda Hodder in the Danny Buderus Class 2 Handicap over 1007m. Hodder had a trail into the straight and comfortably held off a charge to register the mare’s third win at the distance at the track.
“This tracks suits her and she will start here again in a few weeks,” Barnes said. Odds of 100-1 were secured before four-year-old Wyong mare Villarrica scored by a half-length at $20 for trainer Jeff Englebrecht, he and fellow owner Tim Neaverson, and jockey Serg Lisnyy in the Don Hopkins Gateway Advertisers Class 1 & Maiden Plate over 1614m.
Biggest win of the meeting was a 5.5 lengths romp by first starter Designer Maid ($4), trained at Newcastle by Kris Lees and ridden by apprentice jockey Louise Day, in the Congratulations The Mighty NSW Blues Maiden Handicap over 1007m.
Another apprentice, Olivia Pickering, scored by five lengths on mare Stradance ($7.50) for Wyong trainer Mark Cross in the Holli Wheeler F & M Benchmark 55 Handicap over 1257m. Three-year-old gelding So Shy ($7) also led for a half-neck win for Coffs Harbour trainer Aiden St Vincent and jockey Rachael Murray in the Latrell Mitchell CG & E Benchmark 55 Handicap over 1257m.