By Geoff Newling
Race 1: The Scary Ferri sparkled on debut for his new stable in the first race of Somerton Cup day at Gunnedah’s Riverside Racecourse today. The former Wagga Wagga-trained three-year-old filly powered home to register a three quarter length win from Make Some Moolah with Bowie’s Babe a head away in the Oaktree Retirement Villages Gunnedah Maiden Plate (1000m). The Scary Ferri had been unplaced at her three runs down south but won on debut for Tamworth trainer Cody Morgan today. Margaret Callaughan and her sister June Baker own and race the filly and Margaret Callaughan was on hand to watch the successful change of stable and locality. “That’s what we were hoping for,” Yass’ Margaret Callaughan said. She and her Sydney-based sister have sent half a dozen horses to Cody Morgan. 1.5kg claiming apprentice Jackson Murphy rode the filly and was also delighted with the run. “That was a great run but she’s still a bit green,” Jackson Murphy said. Cody Morgan agreed. “We put winkers on her today but she paraded poorly so we’ll take them off next start,” Cody Morgan said. “That was her first run for me,” he confirmed. “That was good to get a winner for them.” He’s hoping to have similar results with the rest of the horses they have entrusted to him.
Race 2: Prickles broke through for her Muswellbrook trainer to end a frustratingly close number of calls when the three-year-old filly won today’s Arlington Yearlings on Sale Sunday May 21 at Tamalee Stud Maiden Plate (1000m). The Mark Schmetzer-trainer daughter of Hinchinbrook edged out Mark Mason’s Gold Legacy to record a short half head win with Brett Cavanough’s L’Appel Du Vide a length away third. In eight starts Prickles had recorded four seconds, two thirds, a fourth and a fifth with a range of bad luck having a hand in all of those defeats. You name it, she’d encountered it, Mark grinned as he paraded the filly after her first win. “She’s tough as nails,” he said. "Always shown a lot, right from day one when we got her from the breakers,” he said. ”Just been unlucky every run.” She was also dropping back to a 1000m today and signalled she might be ready to win a few more too.
Race 3: Fashion Stage “semi trailered” her way to victory in today’s TAB Have A Quaddie At Gunnedah Class 1 Handicap (1200m) at Riverside Racecourse. The Sue Grills-trained mare sailed home along the rail to score a length win from Rident Home with half a length to Gavin Groth’s Jazzee Nick. Matthew Paget was the winning jockey and he had begun to heed Sue Grills advice that her mare, a five-year-old daughter of Duporth “needed room” to run. He was back in the field and starting to head to the middle of the track when he saw a gap on the inside. “It was as big as a semi trailer,” he said without sounding the horns to warn his opponents of his impending change in direction. Once on the rail he had an abundance of running room and the mare, who has now won twice in 18 starts for her owners, responded perfectly. “I told Matt that she needs plenty of room,” Sue Grills said. “He was going out but spotted a run inside. It was a good ride and she got to the line strongly. She also likes racing on hard tracks. She’s also a lot better horse than her results have shown too. Was a bit unlucky at Armidale. Allan (Chau) went back on the inside and got cut out twice.”
Race 4: Sugar Lane landed a sweet plunge for her stable when the chestnut mare won today’s Hopefuel Gunnedah Gold Cup Day May 28 Class 1 Handicap (1200m) at Gunnedah’s Riverside Racecourse. The daughter of Intergaze is trained by Bryan Dixon senior. He is based at Tambo in Central Queensland but has been staying in Tamworth and Gilgandra the past few months with some of his stable “because the prizemoney down here is so good”. “You’ve got to win three up home to win the same amount,” Bryan Dixon said after confirming the stable had backed his mare at good double figure odds. The mare was backed in from 40 and 50-1 to start at $22 after a couple of luckless runs at Dubbo. “She’d run into a lot of trouble,” Bryan Dixon said. “Today she drew a nice gate (1) and was always going to be there.” Jockey Ken Dunbar was delighted. “She only had to run the journey – and she did,” he said after she jumped perfectly from barrier one. Bryan Dixon had initially come down to Tamworth a few months back with some of his Tambo stable with his son, Bryan junior, back at home looking after the rest while their area had a summer break. “We’ve been at Gilgandra for the last month,” Bryan Dixon said after the win. “Got nine there and 17 back up home at Tambo.” Sugar Lane has now won three of 25 starts and she recorded a three quarter length win from Torio’s Delight with Taking Liberties a half length away third.
Race 5: Walk Right In jumped right into a narrow gap to win the GJC Breaker Morant Lightning Prelude Benchmark 70 Handicap (1000m) at Gunnedah today. The Paul Perry-trained gelding made it three wins in succession when South African jockey Keagan Latham gambled on taking an inside run before storming to a length and three quarter win from Mr Pumblechook with Aspiring a half neck away third. Latham was dramatic in his description of the circumstances he was faced with when he talked to stable foreman Nathan Perry, son of Paul Perry, after the event. “There wasn’t much of a gap there,” Latham told Nathan Perry. “But he was going so well so I jumped right in there and he shot through.” Nathan Perry applauded the ride and the decision to take the inside run. “He showed a lot of promise as a two-year-old and ran a few placings in some Stakes races as a two and three-year-old,” Nathan Perry said. “We’re just trying to get him back to where he was and might have to step up some benchmark races in the city now.” Walk Right in has won successive races at Muswellbrook, Quirindi and Gunnedah crashing his career prizemoney through the $100,000 barrier to almost $110,000.
Race 6: Wacky Doo waltzed away with the TAB.com.au Book Your Gold Cup Marquee Class 1 and Maiden Plate (1600m) at Gunnedah today. The Darren Hyde-trained gelding broke a long run of bad draws to surge to a three and half length win from Paul Perry’s I am The Fox. The Gayna Williams-trained George Two was a half head away third. However, it was all Wacky Doo, the Dubbo four-year-old relishing a good draw (2) for a change. “He’s been terribly unlucky with the draws,” Greg Ryan said after the Dubbo jockey snared his 91st winner of the season. “Today he got a good draw.” Darren Hyde has 15 in work at Dubbo where Wacky Doo has copped a heap of wide draws. “He’s been drawing the car park,’ Darren Hyde said. “His last six runs though he’s been in four photo finishes. Just been unlucky to have drawn bad. Today he got a good run from the good barrier.” While he won by a good margin Darren Hyde will most likely spell him now. “He’ll be even better when we get him to 2000m,” he reckoned of his next preparation.
Race 7: Cervinia led all the way to win today’s $20,000 Bective Station Somerton Cup Benchmark 60 Handicap (1600m) and might make another four hour float trip to run in Sunday week’s Gunnedah Gold Cup as well. The Damien Lane-trained five-year-old mare, who had won at Kempsey at her last outing, was rated perfectly out in front by Matt McGuren to hold off Paul Perry’s Torquay for a neck win with Scott Thompson’s top weight, Valatia, two and a quarter lengths away third. It was Matt McGuren’s first Cup winner at Riverside although he did win a Lightning sprint here one year. “She showed good speed out of the gates and was able to hold them off,” McGuren said. “They tried to put the speed on around the back but she coped well.” Cervinia has now won four of her 34 starts and has been racing in good style with no success at the provincials, Damien Lane said. “Since I’ve had her she’s hasn’t run too many bad races,” the former Coonamble trainer, now based at Wyong, said. "Been running good races at the provincials, running placings and not getting beaten far. She was a bit of a concern today. Had 30 starts for just three wins so I didn’t know if she could win back to back after the Kempsey win the other day. But I will have to come back and give her a crack at the Gunnedah Cup (May 28) on that. Only problem is she might not get enough weight so Matt can ride her.”
Race 8: Iwatani returned to the winners list pulled when the well supported Tamworth gelding won today’s XXXX Gold Keith Swan Memorial Benchmark 65 Handicap (1200m) at Gunnedah. The Mark Hatch-trained four-year-old gelding son of Paco Boy carved out a length and quarter win from Paul Grills’ ill-fated Cliveden House with Peter Mills’ Cocktail Time a length away third. While Paul Grills reported Cliveden House had broken down after the race Mark Hatch had no such worries with his chestnut flyer. “He’s been a consistent horse,” Mark Hatch said after the gelding’s third win in 13 outings. "Had his little issues . His feet have been a problem but Zac (his son Zac Hatch) has got on top of those. And this horse always tries hard. Just lucky to have owners like Kris (Thomas). He’s been a real good supporter over many years. If he wasn’t I probably wouldn’t be training.” Thomas, a miner near Sarina in North Queensland hails from Tamworth and has sent Hatch a number of winning horses over a number of years. Mark Hatch said Iwatani might head to Dubbo at the end of the month. “There’s nothing concrete though, we’ll see how he pulls up.” Greg Ryan made it a double on the day and knew he would run a nice race. “He went well first-up the other day,” Greg Ryan said. “Drew a wide gate and mark had him right for today.” Quirindi trainer Peter Mills was hoping Cocktail would run a good race after a fair fourth on his home track the start before. He got that and may now return to Gunnedah for Sunday week’s Gunnedah Gold Cup. “He needs a good blow out,” he said before the Keith Swan Memorial.
Race 9: A Magic Zariz might return to Gunnedah’s Riverside Racecourse for the Gunnedah Gold Cup meeting but he could also go for a spell after his impressive win in today’s Sutton Family Arthur Gore Memorial Class 3 Handicap (1400m). The four-year-old gelding son of Zariz snared a half length win over the Damien lane-trained Mosaytion with Paul Grills’ Image Of Love two lengths away third. Cecil Hodgson trains A Magic Zariz for Gilgandra owner Wally Prout and thinks the gelding has plenty of wins in him. ”He’s a nice horse,” the Coonamble trainer said after collecting a fourth win in 12 starts and coming off a good second at Dubbo. A very good run at Dubbo and he drew wide when he ran in the Country Championship to Stoneyrise. Drew wide and never got on the track.” Hodgson might bring him back to Gunnedah on Sunday week. “The Cup might be a bit solid for him but there might be another race for him,” he said. “But I might spell him too.” He trains A Magic Zariz for Wally Prout and hopes it might have been a good tonic for him. “He’s broken his hip twice in the last 12 months and rang me to say he couldn’t get across today. So this would have been good for him. He’s got four horses with me too, they can all gallop too.”