By Doug Ryan
Wyong trainer Damien Lane 'plundered' another trophy in a runaway win by six-year-old gelding Pirate Ben ($25) in the $80,000 Stacks Law Firm Showcase 2017 Taree Cup (2000m) at Bushland Drive Racecourse before a big crowd on Sunday.
His other starter Mr McBat may have found the journey too long but Lane is happy to have the Wingham Cup which the gelding won over 1600m at Taree on June 2.
“Pirate Ben is a three time city winner, he has proven himself and he has been unlucky at his last few in town. It was a peach of a ride by Travis Wolfgram and the horse will probably go for a break now,” Lane said.
Pirate Ben was always in touch with the pace and scored by two lengths from last year’s third placegetter, seven-year-old gelding Egyptian Ruler ($17), trained by Newcastle’s Ken Lantry, with a neck to the easing $3 favourite, Admiral Jello, trained by top provincial mentor Kris Lees.
Lees was trying to win his third Taree Cup in the past four years but Admiral Jello showed by his finish that he may be suited by the extra distance of the Wyong Cup.
Lane said Pirate Ben was given to him to train by Melbourne owners and after not showing a lot had developed into “a real trier.” Wolfgram said he had a beautiful run, had a lap full of horse and “swooped”.
Last year’s winner Olympic Academy, trained by Lees, finished well back, as did Port Macquarie’s emerging star gelding Glitra, trained by John Sprague, it not staying the distance at its first try.
Wolfgram had a winning double, his other one being Muswellbrook four-year-old mare Majestic Pedrille ($3.60 to $2.70), trained by Mark Schmetzer, in the Wynter Tavern Showcase Fillies & Mares Class 1 Handicap over 1250m. The trainer has big plans for the mare including a Highway race over 1400m in a couple of weeks and The Championships in April.
The other feature, the $35,000 Taree Kia Showcase Manning Lightning Handicap over 1000m, was won by seven-year-old Tuncurry gelding, Arise Augustus ($5), trained by Terry Evans. Hawksbury apprentice Chelsea Ings parked the gelding mid-field off the good pace up front and then mounted a well-timed run to score by a neck from Cessnock mare Aspiring ($8) which had also run second to Arise Augustus when it resumed for a win over 800m at Coffs Harbour on August 3.
Ings has had three rides on Arise Augustus for three wins. Evans was very happy with her ride and believes his galloper, a twice city winner, deserves a chance in the $150,000 Concorde Stakes over 1000m at Royal Randwick on September 2 and or the $200,000 The Shorts over 1100m at the same track on September 16.
Taree trainer Ross Stitt, fresh from a winning treble on Friday at the second day of the cup carnival, grabbed a winning double with stable jockey Scott Thurlow in the saddle.
Six-year-old gelding Bluemoon Dream, owned by David Callaughan and his wife, Pip, vindicated a good betting plunge ($4.60 to $3.20) in scoring by two lengths in the XXXX Gold Showcase Entires & Geldings Class 1 Handicap over 1250m. It was beaten in a photo-finish by Lane’s Rastafarian at Taree Wingham Race Club’s meeting on August 10 and had thrived with beach work.
Tamworth owner Errol French may have been in Queensland but he would be lifted by the two lengths win of his three-year-old gelding Blinkin Artie in the $40,000 Eddie’s Fresh Chickens Showcase 3YO-&-Upwards Country Maiden Handicap over 1400m.
It was only having its fifth start and was the fifth winner for Stitt from six starters on the two days, a remarkable effort! Other winners were three-year-old gelding Zioptimus ($11), trained at Wyong by Allan Kehoe and ridden by apprentice Kellie Holding in the Prime News 3YO Maiden Plate over 1000m; six-year-old gelding Lozza ($7) for Gosford trainer Carmen Murnane, a mount for Chris O’Brien, in the Manning River Times Showcase Benchmark 60 Handicap over 1300m; and eight-year-old gelding Fraajmahal ($11), trained at Newcastle by Ken Lantry and ridden by Josh Adams, in the Taree Leagues Sports Club Showcase Benchmark 64 Handicap over 1600m.