They won the opening two races and then the last but not with the horse punters had expected!
Three local trainers made sure nearly half the program stayed at home on Thursday as Hawkesbury neared the end of its 2017 racing calendar.
Noel Mayfield-Smith got the ball rolling, scoring with On Angels Wings ($7) in the Aveo Bella Vista Maiden Plate (1600m) and Jamie Thomsen followed with Rather Sweet $(9) in the Livamol Sprint Class 1 Handicap (1000m).
Wade Slinkard completed the treble when Stradazzle ($12) surged home from last to claim the Clarendon Tavern Benchmark 60 Handicap (2100m) as fellow Hawkesbury representative As I Do ($2.50 favorite) laboured home, tailing the field of seven runners.
Stewards queried Slinkard about Stradazzle’s form turnaround following two unplaced runs over shorter trips (1300m at home and 1850m at Newcastle) since resuming. He put it down to the increased distance and his liking for his home track; all his three wins in a 37-start career being recorded at Hawkesbury. “And Claire (apprentice Nutman) rides him well,” he added.
Stradazzle came from last on the home turn to outstay First Courrier ($12) and I’m Bulletproof ($5.50). His improvement wasn’t entirely unexpected. The six-year-old firmed from $17 to his starting price, but the majority of punters preferred As I Do, who ran well below her best form.
As I Do’s rider Jay Ford said his mount travelled well until the 600m and then failed to respond and weakened noticeably in the straight. She was beaten nearly 20 lengths. As I Do displayed a poor post-race recovery, and stewards will check her subsequent progress with trainer Jason Attard.
Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup reported that Capeabeel ($6), who finished a distant second last, had not managed the 2100m and would now be spelled.
Mayfield-Smith forecast better things from lightly-raced On Angels Wings (Grant Buckley), who broke through at his sixth start.
“I was pretty confident he would run well, and he will go even better over a bit further,” he said.
“We wanted him ridden quietly, and we have been working him that way”.
On Angels Wings was third last nearing the turn when Buckley began a wide, searching run which carried him to a strong victory over Graciousness and Triumph Star, both $4.20 chances. A four-year-old son of Pendragon, On Angels Wings is out of a Flying Spur mare.
Thomsen has done an excellent job to get Rather Sweet (Winona Costin) back into the winning list – and the mare herself did an excellent job to score.
Despite a wide run without cover near the lead, she was strong to the line, defeating Lieutenant Dan ($5) and Lady Moochi ($7.50). The Mutawwajid four-year-old was having only her third start for her new trainer, and followed up a good second to Our Dasha over 1000m at Muswellbrook on November 5.
Rather Sweet’s only previous victory was a Gosford Maiden (1100m) in August last year.
Thomsen made a number of gear changes on the mare – and they were vindicated. “It’s a management job with her,” he said. “As a two-year-old, she raced against the best.”
Jason Collett ended the meeting with a suspension for alleged careless riding, arising from the Pink Tie Ball March 24 Maiden Handicap (1300m). His suspension begins on December 3, and he can resume riding on December 11.
Hawkesbury has two more meetings remaining – both are Sunday fixtures on December 10 and 17 - before the track goes into recess over the holiday period. Hawkesbury resumes on Wednesday, January 24.