Hawkesbury's leading trainer Scott Singleton had different reasons for hailing his Newcastle double on Thursday. Singleton scored with Art Of Defence ($8) and Base Camp ($1.60 favourite), taking his season’s tally to 23 and overall prizemoney of more than $700,000.
Jess Taylor rode both winners, picking up a late mount on the latter when Tommy Berry had car trouble and was unable to make it to the meeting.
Art Of Defence bounced back to winning form in the Benchmark 65 Handicap (2300m), downing Chris Waller’s $2.50 favorite Destination Tucson.
Base Camp, at only his fourth start, notched a breakthrough success in the Provincial & Country Maiden Handicap (1300m).
“I thought Art Of Defence was going to be alright as a stayer when he won two on end at home over 1800m and 2000m in August, 2015,” Singleton explained. “I gave him a break, but he got upset in an incident when fireworks went off and cut a hind leg.
“Unfortunately, he developed colitis from the treatment given to him, and had to fight for his life. He never came up at his next campaign, and I didn’t continue on with him. That was his fourth run back today, and it was good to see him hit the line as he did.”
Now a five-year-old, Art Of Defence notched his fourth win and Singleton is eyeing another success at Gosford on May 11 in a Benchmark 65 Handicap (2600m): “I’m not sure whether he will race again before that,” he said. “I might nominate him for the Provincial Stayers race over 2100m at our stand-alone meeting here on Saturday week and see what the entries are like.”
Base Camp’s victory pleased his trainer for another reason. The lightly-raced three-year-old carries the same colors as last year’s Group 1 Coolmore Classic winner Peeping (trained by Ron Quinton) and this year’s Golden Slipper runner-up Frolic (Michael Freedman).
“I have pre-trained horses, including Peeping and Frolic, for the Kelly family for quite a while and Base Camp is the first winner I have had for them in my own right. He did a good job today carrying 59kg after finishing second to both Whispered Secret and Fratellino at his previous two starts at Newcastle. I think he might have earned a break.”
Jess Taylor’s double was soured slightly by Stewards who fined her $400 for excessive use of the whip on Art Of Defence prior to the 100m. Stewards said they took into account her excellent riding record relative to the whip rule.