By Geoff Newling
RACE 1 Mr Grumpy jumped to the front and was never headed when the son of I Am Invincible won today’s $20,000 Easters Sand Soil and Gravel 2YO Handicap (1000m) at Tamworth.
The Paul Perry-trained juvenile, who notched his first win at his third start, just lasted, beating the fast-finishing Princess Lottie by a head.
Rachel King, who has outridden her country claim, was delighted to have scored on the Newcastle colt.
“He’s done a great job,” Rachel King.
“He’s not big and he had a bad barrier (12).”
It was the second time Mr Grumpy had raced at Tamworth after debuting at the Country Music Capital track in last October’s Romantic Dream 2YO when he finished half a length second to Harnova.
Stable foreman Michael Rowland was on hand for Paul Perry and he too was happy with a win that could launch a racing career.
“He had a bad barrier but got across and led well,” he said.
“I’m sure we’ll find somewhere for him to go, a nice race somewhere.”
RACE 2 Aristograts might have earned a crack at a Highway Handicap after producing an amazing finish to win today’s Advanced Inland Security Benchmark 55 Handicap (100m) at Tamworth.
The Greg Bennett-trained gelding was trailing the field by six lengths approaching the turn but unleashed a memorable finish to claim a half head victory from Dubbo gelding Larlabrook.
Stable foreman, Tina Eveleigh, deputising for Scone trainer Greg Bennett, said the sight of Aristograts bumbling along six lengths behind the last horse was a shock.
“I thought he couldn’t have four legs,” Tina Eveleigh said.
After consulting with Rachael Murray, who rides Aristograts all his work, she found out why.
“He knuckled over at the start,” she said. “Stumbled out of the barriers and changing his legs.”
Co-owner, Armidale real estate agent Mike Wilson, was equally stunned.
“That was a huge run,” Mike Wilson said.
“He wasn’t travelling at all.”
Believing there was something wrong Tina Eveleigh wasn’t ready for a complete change in fortune as the stunning start turned into an enormous finish.
“She hit the turbo button,” Tina said of Rachael Murray. “She rides him in all his work, knows him well.”
Noted Tamworth owner and breeder Phil Lyne bought Aristograts as a weanling and approached Greg Bennett to syndicate the horse.
They came up with a diverse group that includes Tamworth’s Kerry and Geoff Carr, who also bred and race All Summer Long with Greg Bennett.
Geoff Carr was on hand to see Aristograts at his best and worst.
“It was a huge run,” he said.
“The plan was to race here and then aim for a TAB Highway but he had to earn it and he certainly did today.”
RACE 3 Schindler broke through to end an exasperating start to his racing career at Tamworth today.
The four-year-old son of Snitzel was having his 13th start in the $20,000 Freight Specialists Maiden Handicap (1200m) and jumped well from barrier one for Alison Threadwell to lead all the way.
Trained by Leon Davies at Tamworth, the gelding held on to beat Peter Mills’ Mistress Rose by a half neck with the Sandra McCormack-trained Wally a length and a quarter away third.
Mel Dennett, Leon Davies’ partner, was in charge today and she admitted Schindler had been a frustrating project.
“He had such a soft run today,” Mel Dennett said.
“He wanted to wait for them again. Alison rode him a treat but even so he wanted to wait for the rest of them.”
She said Schindler had overcome feet issues to post his maiden success.
RACE 4 De La Hoya won a second successive sprint at Tamworth today on his way to posing a possible Country Championship start.
Mark Mason prepares the flashy chestnut at Tamworth and had made today’s 92.9 and 2TM Class 3 Handicap (1200m) a step in a rung towards a tilt at the Scone Country Championship heat later this month.
With Robert Thompson aboard De La Hoya settled midfield but wide as Thompson allowed him to edge closer rounding the turn before unleashing in the straight.
The gelding son of Dubleo then responded to notch his fourth race win at his ninth run.
“He won well,” said Mark Mason who also bred the gelding.
“He was up in distance, up in class and weight and had a bad barrier as well. He’s always shown us a bit.”
Thompson was just as upbeat.
“He travelled well, raced well, he handled it all well,” Thompson said. “I think he’ll get further, he did that easily.”
Mark Mason thinks De La Hoya will “get to the 1400m” of the Country Championships at Scone.
RACE 5 Connie Greig didn’t tell Chloe Baker the whole truth about Underground Blues before the coastal apprentice and Dubbo mare walked onto the Tamworth track in today’s $20,000 Shay Brennan Constructions Benchmark 60 Handicap – Heat of the Rising Star (1400m).
The Dubbo trainer’s decision worked perfectly as Baker and Underground Blues surged to victory, beating Michelle Fleming’s Slippery Eel into second with Paul Perry’s Slippery Moss third.
“I didn’t want to panic her,” Connie Greig said of the pre-race instructions. “She is not an easy horse to ride.”
Chloe Baker agreed after notching her first win of the Rising Star Series.
“She was very strong,” Chloe baker said.
“I held her for as long as I could until the 800m. She just wanted to win.”
Baker is enjoying the drive across the Great Dividing Range. A few weeks back she rode a double at Tamworth and then at its most recent meeting drove over for one ride and a win.
In nine starts at Tamworth she has now won four times.
Greig has no immediate plans for Underground Blues who has now won four from 25 starts.
RACE 6 Chloe Baker’s love affair with the Tamworth track continued when the Taree apprentice piloted Mishani Istana to her first win in 35 starts in today’s Allsopp Signs Maiden Plate (1600m).
The qualified nurse rode a patient race on the Tamworth mare to run down the Allan Denham-trained Arnemetia and snare a long neck win.
Robert Thompson looked like he had stolen the race when he skipped clear rounding the turn on Arnemetia as he stared at a winning treble but Baker had other ideas.
She set sail for home and gave Stephen Dixon his first winner since October last year.
“That was a long overdue win,” Stephen Dixon said.
“Gee Chloe can ride. She rode him a treat today. She’s going to make the big time.”
Chloe Baker was full of praise for Mishani Istana.
“She was brilliant, I was able to sit and wait and when I started to go she switched on. She was too good for them,” she said.
Baker has had 10 rides at Tamworth for five winners – two doubles and a win on Delagos, who is nominated for this Friday’s Walcha Cup.
She has 18 winners all up in a career that is just 10 months old.
She is indentured to Wayne Wilkes at Taree, a track where she tasted her biggest success last Friday winning the Arrowfield Queen of The North for Wilkes.
“It’s been really good so far,” Chloe said.
Born and bred in Kendall (halfway between Taree and Port Macquarie) she attended Newcastle Uni (Port Macquarie campus) where she completed a nursing degree.
At the same time she was also riding work for Wayne Wilkes and as she dropped weight a riding career became a possibility.
RACE 7 Pindara has blossomed into a lovely filly and showed her rising talents in unison with another perfect Robert Thompson ride at Tamworth today.
Thompson’s outstanding effort allowed the Allan Denham-trained filly to win the JR Richards and Sons Class 1 Handicap (1400m) by three quarters of a length from gallant Bullet Kid.
Lucky Assassin was a length and a quarter away third.
Robert Thompson had Pindara in the box seat behind the leaders then angled out one off the fence approaching the turn before slicing between horses for an inside run and then out again to the better part of the track for her winning finish.
“She travelled well and was very fit of course. They are always well trained by Allan,” Thompson said.
“She’s still learning too.”
Judy Hudson is one of the co-owners.
She is the daughter of Geoff and Beryl White and grew up in a racing household which has raced some outstanding group 1 stars.
Pindara was bred by Judy but initially wasn’t going to stay.
“We had her sold as a weanling but the money never came through so we decided to race her ourselves,” she said.
“She was small but filled out well. We broke her in and brought her in to work. She’s just blossomed.”
Judy also marvelled at the brilliantly ride performed by Robert Thompson.
“He rode his 3000th winner on one of our horses years ago,” she said.
“Robert remembers her name.”
“A freak of a jockey he also has a freakish memory,” Judy laughed.