By Geoff Newling
Jane Clement and Rachael Murray combined perfectly again on Thursday when Desert Marshal raced away with the $20,000 Whites Rural Gwydir Open Handicap (1200m) at Moree.
The Bendemeer trained four-year-old son of Lope De Vega was never in danger as Murray, who has ridden some 118 winners this season, rated the jane Clemen-trained gelding perfectly in front. They strolled in to beat fast-finishing Mishani Stealth by just over two lengths with Bob’s Warrior third.
It wasn’t without any drama for Murray though, who admitted the gelding had got his head sideways in the barriers and when they jumped she “had no reins”. However, she was able to recover and the gelding went on to win his fifth race in 26 starts for his syndicate of owners Terry Burke, Maurice Blanch, Bruce McHugh and Jane’s parents Marion and Brian Reid.
Murray was able to lead easily and dictate, a far cry from his previous unplaced effort in the John Carlton Cup at Grafton: “He needs to be left alone in front,” Rachael Murray told Sky Thoroughbred Central’s Gary Kliese and Priscilla Schmidt. “He’s got a high cruising speed and can quicken off that.”
Jane Clement said Desert Marshal had “to work too hard” in the John Carlton Cup: “He’s always had the ability just a bit naughty,” she said. “He’s starting to grow up and will make a better horse next year.”
Gunnedah trainer Gavin Groth started the day well, winning the first race with Sound Sleuth while Sue Grills won the second with Onya Rosie. Armidale trainer Stirling Osland produced consistent mare Closely Related to win the third of the day and her second in 20 starts. “She’s always been consistent,” he said of mare who has also had seven placings.
Gulgong trainer Brett Thompson won the fourth race with the flying I’m Imogen. They made the four and half hour trip worthwhile when she railed perfectly after running off the track at her previous Mudgee run.
Sue Grills’s Rothbury was an eye-catching third, finishing powerfully late to edge out stablemate Cool Prince for the minor prizemoney.
Real Blonde was the real deal at Moree on Thursday. The flashy chestnut mare, trained at Moree by Peter Sinclair, powered through the field to win the final race of the day, the $20,000 Moree Ag Supplies & Steel Benchmark 60 Handicap (1400m).
Daniel Northey, who had the first race of the day with the Gavin Groth-trained Sound Sleuth, had bounced out last on the four-year-old daughter of Real saga and had to bide his time near the tail.
However, he managed to find an opening four or five horses wide in the straight and the mare did the rest, surging home brilliantly to beat Peter Mills’s Times Ticking with the Sally Torrens-trained Supreme Goddess third. It was Real Blonde’s fifth career win but her first on her home track.
“You had to put a line through her last start at Gunnedah,” Daniel Northey said of a 10th to Shrapelli on a soft track. “She was back on her home track and the way she went through them she put them away easy.”
Northey heads to Dubbo on Friday with another good book of rides including a two-year-old first starter for Scone trainer Rod Northam – Bring The Joy. While excelling Northey also paid a big compliment to trainer Peter Sinclair, who he said “puts the polish on them”.
Sinclair was just glad to find a good track for a mare he bought from Gary Portelli: “She just doesn’t like the wet,” he said of the Gunnedah surface which had left her no chance at her last outing. She’s come a long way since we got her from Gary,” he said. We were hoping to run her in a big $50,000 picnic race at Dubbo (on Dubbo Cup day).
"However, she didn’t win those 1000m picnic lead up races to qualify for the rich final at Dubbo. Today was a nice consolation. Her wayward days when she used to play up pre-race in the saddling enclosure, seem well behind her and more wins, if dry tracks are available, seem certain given her ability to finish the way she did today."
Racing attention turns to Dubbo today where a number of HNWRA stables are represented while Scone races this Monday before Coonabarabran (Saturday) and Tamworth (Sunday) race the weekend following. Nominations for Tamworth’s eight-race TAB meeting, a Showcase meeting, close 11am next Tuesday.