By Rod Fuller
Fine riding performances by promising female apprentices Kellie Holding, Cejay Graham and Olivia Pickering highlighted the final meeting of the Mid North Coast Racing season conducted at Port Macquarie on Monday.
Kellie Holding was challenged all the way down the straight on the nine-year-old Techrico gelding I’m Danny but held her nerve for a narrow win over Duck in Dubai in race 4, before the heavily-supported Laurentian saluted for Cejay Graham in the Benchmark 55 Handicap. Olivia Pickering made a lightning move at the 600 metre mark before finishing down the outside to take the final race on the program.
Punters were reeling early when the odds-on favourite Raiden missed the start by four lengths in the opener and Central Witness was beaten into third place in race 2.
The meeting was run on a good 4 track under fine skies, with the racing favouring horses finishing fast towards the outside. The season winners for the association were jockey, Andrew Gibbons, while Kris Lees took the trainers' title and Chloe Baker won the apprentice award.
Race 1: Astute Coffs Harbour trainer, Brett Bellamy, might have the makings of a very promising horse in the shape of Northern Knight, who came down the outside for a comprehensive win in the opening race. Following on from a strong trial win at his home track, the Bon Hoffa gelding defied a betting drift to charge home, after drawing wide and settling mid-field. Nic And Run was on the speed throughout and ran on resolutely for second, while the Kris Lees trained pre-post favourite, Raiden, worked home well for third. Punters who took the short odds of $1.28 galloper were not happy when the Foxwedge colt failed to anticipate the manual start and under the circumstances, the run to finish in the placings was full of merit.
Race 2: With the benefit of a solid hit-out at the recent Port Macquarie meeting, the Neil Godbolt-trained galloper The Weald came down the crown of the track for an impressive win. Having taken notice of the pattern of racing in the opening event, Grant Buckley had no hesitation in riding the Street Cry gelding just off the pace in forth position and made a move approaching the turn for a 2¾ length victory. The early pacemaker We’re All Ears battled on well for second ahead of the short-priced favourite Central Witness, who was midfield throughout the event and made up ground over the concluding stages.
Race 3: Matt Paget was seen to advantage steering Sausalito to break his maiden status after camping behind the early leaders, Arloarlo and Latitude. The lightly-raced Sebring gelding from the Paul Perry stable lacked the betting confidence of the recent Taree run when sent out a short-priced favourite, but was still too good for a handy field. Penny Fling, trained by John Sprague, was responsible for an excellent third despite beginning awkwardly and giving the ultimate winner a handy start on the turn.
Race 4: A fine wine improves with age and the same can be said for the 9yo gelding I’m Danny, who fought on with great determination to score in a busy and deceptive finish. Promising young apprentice Kellie Holding was challenged all the way down the straight on the Ken Tynan-trained galloper, but didn’t panic in scoring by a short head at his 2nd run from a 10-month spell. The race favourite Duck In Dubai was always prominent in finishing second while the run of the Niello gelding, Not Doubtful, down the extreme outside was full of merit.
Race 5: With racing pedigree and a hard working attitude, apprentice Cejay Graham continues to shine and was responsible for a confident winning ride on Laurentian. The pre-race plan from trainer John Sprague was to lead from the outside barrier and run rivals into the ground and that was followed specifically by Cejay aboard the Snippetson gelding for a well-deserved win. Laurentian gave punters who backed the gelding from $3.40 to $2.40 little cause for fear and a just reward after placings at his last four appearances. Supreme Willy has an improved run for 2nd and Smithtown ran an even race to figure in the placings.
Race 6: After strong placings at Taree recently, the Mathew Robinson-trained gelding Demoralising claimed a narrow win over Written Song and Ilia. While some of his rivals made moves towards the outside, jockey Matt McGuren was happy to kick up closer to the inside to claim victory by a half-head. The last start Written Tycoon mare Written Song tried hard for Coffs Harbour trainer Joanne Hardy, while Eddy Would Go didn’t seem happy under the conditions and finished out of the placings.
Race 7: House of Tudor set a strong pace in the lead for most of the event but was quickly claimed at the home turn by Svavarsson with Toast and Light Motion storming down the outside. Claiming apprentice Olivia Pickering made her move at the 600m mark on Light Motion and came down the extreme outside for an impressive win. Rewarded for consistency after placings at Grafton during the July carnival, the Shane Everson-trained gelding held off the finish of Toast and Fired Up. The favourite in a wide betting race, Dolphin Tale failed to fire in the event and finished worse than mid-field.
Horses to Follow: Northern Knight and Penny Fling
Next Port Macquarie meeting: Camden Haven Cup Day on Saturday, 26th August 2017.