There's no escaping the fact that the owners of a Hawkesbury gelding have a “bargain buy” on their hands. The syndicate that races No Escape is chasing a hat-trick after the five-year-old clinched back-to-back victories on the Beaumont track at Newcastle on Saturday.
Starting at $7, No Escape (Mitchell Bell) outgamed runner-up Static Lift ($5.50) in the Class 2 Handicap (1350m), leaving Godolphin’s hotpot Animalia ($1.45 favourite) in his wake in third place. Trainer Terry Croft says No Escape was picked up for a meagre four-figure amount as a yearling in 2014.
“He was offered at the Classic sale in Sydney, and was passed in before being subsequently bought fairly cheaply,” Croft explained. “It’s a local syndicate which races the horse and some of them are first-time owners.”
No Escape has now won three races and been placed five times from only 16 starts and earned prizemoney of $66,185 – a long, long way in front of his purchase price.
“No Escape was very immature as a young horse, and didn’t really show a lot,” Croft said. “We didn’t race him as a two-year-old, and it wasn’t until well into his three-year-old season that he made his debut. He has got better with each preparation.”
No Escape had six starts in his first campaign without winning, but managed three placings. It wasn’t until his 10th start that he broke through; in a 1200m Maiden at Gosford on New Year’s Eve last year.
Croft has a real affinity with the annual Forbes Cup meeting and was thrilled when No Escape won his second race there earlier this month after he had especially set him for that mission.
“I thought he might have had too much weight (60kg after apprentice Jean Van Overmeire’s 1.5kg claim in a 1400m Class 1 Handicap), but he was good enough to overcome it,” he said. “Now that he has won another race his Benchmark rating will go up further. We might look at the Provincial Cup (a 1400m Benchmark 70 Handicap) at Newcastle on September 16 or perhaps a midweeker in town.”
Croft has been training at Hawkesbury for just over three decades after relocating from Queensland, and is proud of an achievement which can never be taken from him.
“I trained at Deagon and then Caloundra, and was the first trainer based at Caloundra to win a race in Brisbane,” he said. “Pedro’s Tigress ran fourth to the late Bruce McLachlan’s grey McGettigan in a race at the opening meeting at Caloundra’s Corbould Park in July, 1985 and then won at Doomben at her next start.”