Chris Munce returns to Sydney racing in a different role tomorrow on a track where he has enjoyed great success. The former champion jockey will have first Sydney runner as a trainer at the metropolitan midweek meeting at Hawkesbury.
Munce flew to Sydney today to saddle Lucky Jackson (Jason Collett) in the Blakes Marine Benchmark 66 Handicap (1800m) for three-year-olds. In a distinguished riding career, Munce netted 42 Group 1s, including the 'big four' of the Golden Slipper Stakes (Prowl in 1998 and Dance Hero in 2004), Cox Plate (Savabeel), and Caulfield (Descarado) and Melbourne (Jezabeel) Cups. And he was no mean slouch either when it came to riding feature winners at Hawkesbury.
“It was a pretty good track for me; hopefully it will be again tomorrow,” Munce said this morning. “Lucky Jackson is a lightly-raced three-year-old, and I’m looking forward to getting him out to a suitable distance.”
Munce’s Hawkesbury successes included three Gold Cups (Stoway in 2003, Beauty Watch in 2006 and Keepin’ The Dream in 2009), two Guineas (Roadagain in 2004 and Related in 2009) and the 2009 Rowley Mile on Lyncean Academy.
Casino-born Munce, 48, swapped his saddle for a stopwatch two years ago and has quickly established himself as a trainer on the rise from his Eagle Farm base.
Named after Elvis Presley’s character in the 1960s film Viva Las Vegas, Lucky Jackson is a gelded son of Casino Prince from a Fastnet Rock mare (Purple Vein), and has started only four times.
He broke through first-up this season in a Sunshine Coast Maiden (1400m) on October 15 on a very heavy track, before finishing second to Prince Albert in a Grafton Benchmark 60 Handicap (1710m) on October 31, this time on a firm surface.
“Grafton is the furthermost I have come across the border so far with a runner,” Munce said. “I brought Lucky Jackson home after the Grafton race before sending him to Sydney as there aren’t a lot of suitable races for him here at present.”
He’s the English horse with the Australian name – and gets his chance to make a winning metropolitan debut at Hawkesbury. Five-year-old import Wallangarra (the third most southerly town in Queensland, 258km south-west
of Brisbane) comes to town seeking a hat-trick following wins at Port Macquarie and on his home track at Newcastle.
A five-year-old son of Teofilo, Wallangarra has raced only three times since joining Kris Lees’s stable. He closed nicely when a first-up third in a 1400m Maiden at the Newcastle Cup carnival on September 16, then scored over 1812m at Port Macquarie on October 7 and 1850m at Newcastle in a Class 2 Handicap on October 21.
“It’s obviously a big step tomorrow going to midweek city grade, but Wallangarra keeps improving and deserves his chance,” Lees said today. He has booked leading apprentice Andrew Adkins, who will reduce Wallangarra’s weight by 1.5kg to 58.5kg.
Lees has withdrawn The Wasp from the Livamol Dash (1000m Benchmark 76 Handicap) to rely on Envy Of All (Glyn Schofield). Envy Of All chased home, albeit beaten easily, the unbeaten Bon Amis (an impressive Sydney debut winner at Rosehill Gardens last Saturday) in a Class 2 Handicap (900m) at Newcastle on October 21.
The Your Song filly is a model of consistency. She has never been out of a place in six starts to date, winning one and notching five minor placings. Lees’s other Hawkesbury representative is Bochy (Blake Shinn), who opposes Munce’s Lucky Jackson in the Benchmark 66 Handicap. The rail tomorrow is 3m out from the 1300m to 400m, and in the TRUE position for the remainder. A Good 4 rating was posted this morning with a penetrometer reading of 4.91.
RACE 1: AONAIR, Tinkermosa, High Dude.
RACE 2: TIKI BAR, Sasuba, Jaunty.
RACE 3: STARRING, Lankan Pharaoh, Son Of A Fox.
RACE 4: ENVY OF ALL, Wanna Get A What, Eleazar.
RACE 5: MARBLE, Lisdoonvarna, The Hipster.
RACE 6: FIREBIRD FLYER, Grimoire, Ladder.
RACE 7: D’BEAK, Wallangarra, Baysa.
SPECIALS: MARBLE, ENVY OF ALL, TIKI BAR