By Geoff Newling
Races 1 & 2: Local trainer Rod Northam had to settle with the bridesmaid tag on the opening two races of today’s eight-race Scone program. Northam had first starter Maxima engaged in the first race, the $20,000 Horsepower Plate Maiden (900m). She led but was run down by the Bjorn Baker-trained Terra Reign. He also had Love For Willow and The Debater in the second race, the Stratum Star @ Widden 3YO Maiden Handicap (1100m). While The Debater was unplaced, Love For Willow was unlucky, finishing powerfully to go down by a half head to the Kris Lees-trained Clevanicc. Rod Northam thought Maxima and Love For Willow were good chances before their runs and delighted with their efforts after. Love For Willow, especially, had to be eased off heels in the straight by Robert Thompson before the three-year-old daughter of Denman powered to the line for a narrow loss at her fourth race start. Clevanicc also finished powerfully for his Kris Lees stable. The three-year-old son of Nicconi was also having his fourth race start and impressed jockey Andrew Gibbons, who is having his best season. Gibbons has now ridden 71 winners and believes there are also more wins in store for Clevanicc. “He’s still a big baby,” Andrew Gibbons said. “He’s a massive horse but still learning. He’s going to make a nice type of horse.” While Gibbons is enjoying a best ever season so too is the Kris Lees stable with more than 150 winners. They achieved that number at Tamworth last Monday with a winning double. Kris Lees’s best season had been 130 winners and just over $7.5 million in prizemoney but has easily eclipsed that with more than $8.7 million in prizemoney so far this season, including four Group Ones. “It has been a good season,” said stable foreman Mal Ollerton, himself a former Scone boy. “It’s been a lot of hard work by a lot of people.” He said Clevanicc can only improve. "He fought on real good,” he said. A good solid effort and had a nice trail behind them and he will be a little bit better when he gets over a bit more ground.”
Race 3: Sweatball burst between horses to win today’s $20,0000 Kia Ora Stud Maiden Handicap (1300m). The lightly raced six-year-old gelding son of Delzao was having just his 12th start and his first since being gelded, advised trainer Greg Mcfarlane. “He’d been a frustrating horse,” Mcfarlane said. “Had him gelded and he’s come back a better horse. He showed ability last time.” When Rachael Murray took a run between second-placed Niyah and Kijito Sweatball responded ideally to scoot away to a length win from Nyah. “He’s a nice horse,” Rachael Murray said. “When I’d ridden him before though he’d been a bit tentative when I went for a run. He’s grown a lot in confidence.” She said he still has a “few little tricks” but he raced “fantastic” when held up today.
Race 4: Azzie's Ready led all the way to win today’s Segenhoe Stud Benchmark 60 Handicap (900m) and follow in his father’s footsteps. A three-year-old gelding son of Ready As, Azzie’s Ready was having his seventh start today and coming off a long neck second at Coffs Harbour on a Heavy 9 track over 810m. The gelding’s sire, Tamworth stallion Ready As, won his first race on debut at Scone in a career that was tormented by feet problems. Peter Mills trains Azzie’s Ready and was delighted the gelding put it all together today. The firmer track was a major help, the Quirindi trainer said. “He can handle most types of tracks but that’s the best track he’s had this prep,” Peter Mills said. “We were very happy with him today and hopefully go ahead from here.” Apprentice Chris Williams thought the win was better than it might have looked. “He got a little unbalanced, there was a little wet patch there near the turn but he stuck on well,” he said. “It was a nice win. He’s still fairly green, he jumped and had a fair look around but he’ll go on from here.”
Race 5: The Kris Lees-Andrew Gibbons struck again later in the day when grey chestnut mare Navua Mist gave nothing else a chance in the Star Turn @ Vinery Class 2 Handicap (1100m). Mal Ollerton had told Andrew Gibbons to lead if he could and Gibbons did exactly that before cutting her loose turning for home. The four-year-old daughter of Exceed and Excel accelerated clear and refused to lie down, winning by a length and a half from Muswellbrook gelding Torio’s Delight. Mal Ollerton said returning to a 1100m trip and firmer footing played major roles in her third career win at start number 19
Race 6: A return to her home track, firmer footing and no blinkers helped Don’t Doubt Her rekindle her best form at Scone today. The three-year-old daughter of Not a Single Doubt got back but charged home for Robert Thompson to ensure Scone trainer Rod Northam had something to celebrate on his home track. Northam had to endure second placings with Maxima and Love For Willow in the first two races and watched as Don’t Doubt Her notched win number two at her 12th start. “She races a lot better here,” Rod Northam said. “She’s the best (track) worker in the stable.” Her last two starts at Taree and Coonamble had been disappointing and the change in tactics and removal of the blinkers ensured she raced much better and more relaxed at the back of the field. “Good to have her back in form,” Robert Thompson said. “She’s always shown a lot of ability. Rod had been pulling his hair out so it was good to have her back.”
Race 7: Randiki rushed home from last to snare a winning treble for Newcastle jockey Andrew Gibbons when he sailed to success in the Maurice: The Beast From The East Benchmark 70 Handicap (1400m) at Scone today. Gibbons had won aboard the Kris Lees pair Clevanicc and Navua Mist earlier in the day and gave Kylie gavenlock an overdue win with her seven-year-old gelding son of Falvelon. He was having his 40th start today and notched his sixth victory with a last to first surge from the back. “Good to see the right Randi turn up today,” Kylie Gavenlock said. “That was a good race for him.” She believes there should be more benchmarked 70 races in the country and was also thankful to Andrew Gibbons for his ride. "He is riding well. He is on the crest of a winning wave and said he was going to ride four winners today.” Gibbons also had the ride on race favourite Sheilarized in the final race of the day. “You never doubt his ability,” Andrew Gibbons said of Randiki. “It all worked out good for me, when I asked him he let down really well. Also good to get a winner for Kylie too.”
Race 8: Artistic Beauty pulled off a strong plunge to win the final race at Scone today. The Cameron Crockett-trained chestnut mare was backed into favouritism in the Turangga Farm Class 3 Handicap (1600m) and hung on strongly to score a three quarter length win from Brett Cavanough’s Last Try Wins. David Atkins’d Marman was third after spearing wide on the turn and following last Try Win. They had been back at the rear with Artistic Beauty and while they tracked wide young apprentice Chris Williams, who had won aboard Azzie’s Ready earlier in the day, had set a course inside and navigated a winning run down the middle of the spacious layout. Chris Williams claims 2kg but the young apprentice is a shooting star and knew he was on a good chance. “Cameron was very bullish,” he said of the Mudgee trainer’s thoughts on the four-year-old daughter of Excellent Art’s chances. "He said it will take a good one to beat her. She’s also been knocking on the door and to her credit she stuck on well.” Brett Cavanough’s narrow string of losses returned this week after The Monstar threw away Wednesday’s Ramornie Handicap at Grafton to finish second to Calanda. Last Try Wins was also coming off an unlucky second in a Highway Handicap in Sydney.