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Geoff Newling Reviews Friday's Scone Race Meeting

By Geoff Newling

Race 1: Gingersnap scored a last bound win to snap her unbeaten run at Scone today. The Kris Lees-trained filly arrived late to grab Bjorn Baker’s Reprimands in a thrilling late lunge and record a short head win in the HTBA Protect Our Industry Maiden Handicap (900m). Ridden by Jeff Penza Gingersnap, a three-year-old daughter of Snippetson, was having her fifth race start and wound up over the final 400m of the spacious Scone track to run down her Warwick Farm opponent. “She went good, just wanted to lay in a bit,” Jeff Penza told stable foreman Malcolm Ollerton. “She’s still a bit new,” Ollerton added in reply. He said Gingersnap “probably should have won last prep”. “She was a bit unlucky at her first start,” Ollerton said. “But she was really skinny and weak last time. She’s not a big filly now but to what she was she is. She’ll win a couple more on that, maybe one in town at the midweeks.” Ollerton is a former Scone product, a talented apprentice jockey who retired before his time and started working for Kris Lees, where he rides work and looks after some of the best horseflesh in racing. “The game has been good to me,” he said. “It’s a hard game but Kris has been real good to me. I’ve been lucky enough to ride a lot of good horses (in work) and have been to a lot of good places around. I couldn’t ask for a better boss, he’s been very good to me.” Now 39, Malcolm, the son of veteran Scone trainer Tom Ollerton, has been working for Kris Lees for 15 years and believes some very good years for the stable are still to come.

Race 2: Andrew Robinson celebrated an overdue win when Mac’s Reward raced away with today’s Maurice @ Arrowfield 3YO Maiden Plate (1100m) at Scone. The Muswellbrook trainer, who had worked for Scone trainer Greg Bennett until opting to go out on his own 10 months ago, cheered home Mac’s Reward to his first win. The three-year-old chestnut gelding had started his career in Victoria before moving north to Robinson in his new Muswellbrook stable. A first-up second at Taree and sixth at Tamworth had preceded an unlucky second on his new home track on February 2. “He was unlucky last start, been drawing bad barriers and he did fight on well the other day too,” Andrew Robinson said. “Good to have this little girl on top today too,” he said of winning jockey Courtney van der Werf. “When she first came back she rang me for a ride and I’m more than happy to put her on. She rode a winner at Newcastle yesterday for her new masters, Peter and Paul Snowden.” Since leaving Greg Bennett’s Scone stable he has set up his own stable at Muswellbrook where he has “half a dozen in work”. “I’ve got a fantastic bunch of owners too,” he said. “They are all from Scone too.” Robinson was also doing it tough on crutches after an Animal Kingdom colt had kicked him in the leg, breaking an ankle recently. As for Mac’s reward, Robinson might have a race in mind. “We’ll see how he pulls up but there might be a race for him at Muswellbrook on Wild Card day,” he said of the Country Championships repecharge heat in late May.

Race 3: Red Knot realised some of his potential when he surged to a six-length win at Scone today. The Rod Northam-trained gelding son of Redoute’s Choice was sent to the front by jockey Serg Lisnyy and then raced away from his opposition to a class record-breaking (electronic) 1min 23.87secs. Allan Denham’s Commandatore was six lengths away second with Kris Lees’ Weavered a half length away third. Merriwa owner Paul Frampton bought Red Knot as a yearling at the Magic Millions yearling sale on the Gold Coast in combination with American friend John Kelly and Reg Inglis. He was sent to Gai Waterhouse but was “disappointing”, Paul Frampton said after yesterday’s win. “When he didn’t live up to city class i bought John’s share out and now race him with Reg. We sent him up to Rod (Northam) and he’s done a very good job with him.” Red Knot debuted for Northam with a second at Muswellbrook on February 2 before streeting his opposition today. ”Good to win that first win out of the road today,” Rod Northam said. “Now we’ll try and get a second.” Rod Northam believes confidence, or building up confidence, is Red Knot’s biggest issue. “He can be a very hard-headed,” he said. Paul Frampton has had a good week with Zestful winning at Randwick on Monday for Kris Lees while talented Fickle Folly, trained at Tamworth by Sue Grills, runs in a Highway Handicap in Sydney tomorrow. “She is a nice little filly,” Paul Frampton said.

Race 4: Craig Bermingham hopes to return to Scone in a fortnight and win again on Country Championships Qualifier day with Sculptures after his six-year-old gelding won today’s Dream Ahead @ Emirates Park Benchmark 60 Handicap (1600m). The gelding son of Exceed And Excel was given a perfect run by coastal apprentice Jesse Graham and the metric miler responded with a length and half win from Damien Lane’s Bench Star. It was Sculptures’ fourth win for his Muswellbrook trainer, Craig Bermingham. Originally from Western Australia Bermingham is the son of former jockey/trainer Pat Bermingham. “Dad’s semi retired now,” Craig Bermingham said. “My brother (Pat junior) trains at Kalgoorlie, has 20 in work there.” Craig works in “the office” at one of the local mines. “Work Monday to Friday,” he said. “Couldn’t train if I had shift work.” As it is he has three in work at Muswellbrook and he was delighted Sculptures could salute today. Jesse Graham said Sculptures was slow away but then travelled up to them nicely. It was Graham’s only ride for the day too. “He’s been getting caught deep but running nice races,” Craig Bermingham said. “He’s a nice little horse. Taken time to get him right.” Sunday, March 5 appears to be his next race date too, Craig confirmed. “There’s a benchmark 60 mile on the Championships Qualifier day here,” he said. “The same grade too. I’ll nominate him for that.”

Race 5: He had nine last start winners chasing him but Mister Marmalade gave them a hiding, bolting in to a three and a half length win in today’s So You Think @ Coolmore Class 1 Handicap (1400m) at Scone. The Greg Bennett-trained gave nothing else a chance when Rachael Murray went straight to the front, booted clear to a two half length lead 800m from home and then improved that that to almost four lengths in a brilliant front-running display. “That’s the way to ride him,” stable foreman Tina Everleigh said as she waited for Murray and the four-year-old gelding son of Duke Of Marmalade to return to the winners stall. “He’s such a big strider. Rachael jumped out and let him roll, let him run and he will run all day. He’ll get 2000m no worries. that was awesome.” Mister Marmalade was bred by Forbes owner Lex Crosby. He had trained him early but realised he had too much horse to educate and sent him to “lookalike” Greg Bennett. “He was too good for me to train,” Lex Crosby admitted. “I had him in work as a two-year-old but he was too good for me so I had to find someone to train him.” Greg Bennett is delighted the chestnut arrived at his Scone stable. “He’s got that big stride,” Greg Bennett said. “He’s going to be a very nice horse for someone. I might get one more run out of him before I pull up stumps,” the retiring trainer said. “There’s a TAB highway handicap in Sydney next week over 1500m that might suit him. We’ll see how he pulls up.” Bennett is retiring from training after the Country Championship Final in Sydney on April 1 to take up a position with Aquis Farm in South East Queensland. “Whoever gets this horse will get a very nice horse,” he said. “I’m very happy with him. While I love winning races here at Scone I’ve got one more meeting to go. Hopefully we’ll get a bit of joy out of this bloke as well as a few more today.”

Race 6: Greg Ryan delivered his 3499th winner in typical fashion at Scone today. The Dubbo-based jockey powered Ubatuba home for Warwick Farm-based trainer Bjorn Baker to win today’s $20,000 Yarraman Park Class 1 Handicap (1100m) by a length and half from Allan Denham’s Cleeve Hill with the Con Karakatsanis-trained De Kurnell a length and a quarter away third. Cleeve Hill had hit the lead at the 200m from leader Jazzee Nicc and just when he looked a chance Ryan brought Ubatuba, a three-year-old son of Lope de Vega, from five or six lengths off them with a storming run down the centre of the immaculate. “It was a top win,” Greg Ryan said. “Won’t be his last either. He was a bit tardy out and going nowhere early but he’s defied the pattern of racing here today. And he also had 60 and half on his back too.” The 51-year-old, a qualified motor mechanic from Wellington, started his racing career late but in three decades has amassed almost 3500 winners and lies second to Robert Thompson (4262) who rode runner-up Cleeve Hill. As to when he will make it 3500 winners, Greg was philosophical. “Probably take me 10 meetings,” he joked as he headed to weight in and then prepare for a nice ride on the Pat Farrell-trained Alliterate in the seventh race of the day.

Race 7: Wing Snipper continued the racing pattern at Scone today when the Allan Denham-trained gelding raced away with The Darley Stallions Benchmark 65 Handicap (900m). Aaron Bullock sat the gelding son of Snippetson off leader Poet’s Trick (Stephen Dixon) before pouncing in the straight and rushing away to a three and quarter length win from Cody Morgan’s Pelerin, which made up good ground to edge out Enigami, for second. It was all Wing Snipper though, the Allan Denham-trained gelding cruising to fourth career win at just his ninth start. “He’s a nice horse,” Allan Denham said. "He’s going through his classes well but I will see how he pulls up. I will step him up now.” He said the best part of his win was the way he “got to the line. He’s a speed horse but he doesn’t have to lead. I’m sure he can get further.” As to where he goes next he wasn’t sure but said the “benchmark rating will decide that”.

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