By Rod Fuller
Five years after scoring in the 2013 Port Macquarie Cup, Phrases has the chance to rewrite history with the grey gelding claiming a guaranteed start in the mid-north coast feature by saluting in the Stowe Australia Port Prelude on Sunday.
The Cheers family has done a wonderful job with the Casino Prince galloper with victory taking his record to 9 wins and 21 minors from 86 appearances and stake earnings over the half-million-dollar mark.
Warwick Farm galloper, Tinker Dan was the solidly supported favourite with a great deal of interest surrounding the Neil Godbolt trained gelding, Shadow Prince, who was coming through the grades nicely following wins at Taree and Grafton. Melted Moments had his fair share of admirers while the Jenny Graham stable has enjoyed an outstanding year and followers expected Backhouse Billy to perform admirably.
Matthew Paget gained the early ascendancy on Shadow Prince before being challenged in the second half of the race by Phrases while Tinker Dan was making ground as the field approached the run for home.
Terry Treichel raced the nine-year-old grey, Phrases, to the lead from Shadow Prince in the straight before Ben Looker made his challenge on Tinker Dan with the John Steinmetz-trained gelding momentarily striking the lead.
Phrases was not to be denied as he kept kicking back on the rails to hit the front again while Tinker Dan started to race ungenerously under pressure. With both runners gaining automatic entry for the $150,000 Carlton Draught Port Macquarie Cup on 5th October, the toughness of Phrases together with the benefit of a debut run on the track by Tinker Dan will provide great ammunition for their followers in this prestigious event.
Racing honours were evenly spread by trainers and jockeys throughout the afternoon with the combination of Kris Lees and Andrew Gibbons responsible for the most impressive performance when Think Free scored by five lengths in the opening event.
The largest successful betting plunge for the day went to the Paul Perry trained gelding, Shark Alley, who was backed from $6.50 to $4.80 before saluting with Chad Lever in the saddle, while On My Terms attracted a great deal of wagering attention without delivering.
Racing was conducted under fine skies on a soft five circuit with patrons treated to some very exciting racing and close finishes. There was a great deal of interest in the performance of Je Suis Tycoon, a horse recently transferred to the Neil Godbolt stable from Victoria.
After racing in the middle of the pack and having an interrupted passage at vital parts of the concluding stages, the Written Tycoon mare worked home well and could provide success in future contested events. The track featured a good grass covering and raced relatively evenly as horses could win by being placed near the speed early or finish fast down the outside over the concluding stages.
The club would like to take time out to thank Stowe Australia for their support together with associated sponsors NHP Electrical Engineering, Lear & Smith, Rexel Group, Prysmian Cable, Mid Coast Switchboards, Cetnaj Lighting Electrical & Data together with Fulton Industries Australia for making the day such a wonderful success. The stage is now set for two magnificent days of racing headed by the $150,000 Carlton Draught Port Macquarie Cup and the $50,000 Showcase Sprint on Friday 5th October.
With prizemoney reaching around $400,000 and the racing spotlight centering on the mid-north coast circuit, the very best horses, trainers and jockeys in the land will be heading to Port Macquarie for the pinnacle program on the calendar. The carnival culminates with Steeline raceday on Saturday 6th October and the prospect of good weather conditions together with the school holiday period further enhancing the possibility of greatly increased patronage.
Race 1: Fulton Industries Australia Maiden Plate (1506m): There was an air of confidence around the Kris Lees trained galloper, Think Free, with punters prepared to take the short price on offer and the weight of support tightening the So You Think filly into $1.35 popular elect. After beginning well and leading early, Andrew Gibbons on the favourite was content to camp second on the rails and allow Vision and Prayer to race to the lead while Chunky Charger and Our Dragon were on the pace and Love Boat was over-racing in fifth position. Chad Lever on Vision and Prayer tried to kick away down the side of the course but Gibbons rolled off the fence to challenge for the lead on Think Free as the field approached the home turn. It didn’t take long for Think Free to race clear in the straight for a comprehensive victory by over five lengths in class record time from Vision and Prayer and Our Dragon with the win being well-deserved following strong career placings at Taree and Tamworth. Thirteen Drops was relieved of its race engagement prior to start time.
Race 2: Mid Coast Switchboards F&M Maiden Hcp (1106m): Despite drifting half a point in betting operations, Good Excuse from the Wayne Wilkes training establishment was sent to the barrier as favourite with Apache Belle providing the most interest following a two-point move resulting in a starting price of $5. The race was robbed of some interest with the Paul Perry-trained filly, Macal, being a late scratching prior to the event. After an early speed battle, Rachael Murray kicked the Allan Kehoe-trained filly, Apache Belle to the lead from Good Excuse with Vagabonds Rap trapped wide and Can’t Catch Her perfectly positioned by Darryl McLellan just off the pace. This position remained until the home bend before Andrew Gibbons on Good Excuse issued the challenge to Apache Belle with the two gallopers clearing from the pack in the home straight. Murray was able to get the most from the Mahisara filly, Apache Belle, to land the prize in an exciting drive to the line by an extremely narrow margin from Good Excuse with Trefranian responsible for a strong performance in third place.
Race 3: Cetnaj Lighting Electrical & Data CG&E Maiden Hcp (1106m): Following a sound debut at Tuncurry on cup day, Ultimate Power was sent to the barrier as firm favourite from Snippets of Rain with a great deal of confidence surrounding the chances of Shark Alley resulting in the Paul Perry gelding tightening into $4.80. Ben Looker allowed Snippets of Rain to stride to the front from Shark Alley with Ultimate Power well positioned and Tom Thumb sitting just off the speed. The Todd Howlett-trained gelding, Snippets of Rain, was immediately under pressure as Chad Lever made his move on Shark Alley to drive the Choisir gelding to a clear lead while Ultimate Power was finishing resolutely down the outside. Shark Alley was able to maintain the lead and win by just under a length from Ultimate Power and Brother Magic while the Tim McIntosh-trained gelding, Litt Up, made good ground over the concluding stages and Snippets of Rain wilted badly.
Race 4: Lear & Smith – Rexel Group BM 58 (1506m): Magic Name from the Angela Davies stable was labelled post time favourite at $3.40 in a wide market resulting in many horses around each way odds given a chance of success by punters. With the early pattern of races tending to horses on the pace being advantaged, Olivia Pickering found herself well back on Light Motion in the middle sections of the event as One More, Urban Royal and Streets of Dubai vied for supremacy. Newton was wide on the track and over racing with Ben Looker allowing the gelding to stride towards the lead providing the initiative for Pickering to make a move on the Encosta de Lago gelding, Light Motion, while Magic Name lost his position as the runners sprinted towards the home bend. There were many chances as the field spread across the track with the Shane Everson-trained galloper, Light Motion, flashing down the crown of the track to hold off the fast finish of Magic Name and I’ve Got This with One More weakening noticeably over the concluding stages.
Race 5: Stowe Australia Port Macquarie Cup Prelude (1812m): With a guaranteed entry for the cup for the first two placegetters in the prelude, Tinker Dan was labelled the well-supported favourite from Shadow Prince and Melted Moments with the Jenny Graham-trained gelding, Backhouse Billy, kept safe in wagering operations. Shadow Prince was attempting the hat-trick following success in class races with Matthew Paget electing to assume control on the Dalghar gelding from Northern Charm and Phrases with Backhouse Billy just off the speed. The John Steinmetz-trained favourite, Tinker Dan, was trapped wide and Ben Looker allowed the Dylan Thomas galloper more reign to take a forward position as Phrases moved up to challenge for the lead. The two greys, Shadow Prince and Phrases, cleared away as the field headed for the judge with Tinker Dan moving into a prominent position and Backhouse Billy labouring under pressure. The evergreen Peter Cheers campaigner, Phrases, raced to the lead with Tinker Dan challenging strongly down the outside and momentarily hitting the lead before racing ungenerously under pressure. This allowed Phrases to strike back in the shadows of the post to score by a half-length from Tinker Dan with Dew Drops making up valuable ground on the crown of the track and Backhouse Billy finishing down the course.
Race 6: Prysmian Cable Class 1 Hcp (1206m): In a particularly wide betting market, Je Suis Tycoon was the narrow favourite with followers of the Allan Kehoe stable at Wyong looking for a double as they strongly supported Zioptimus into $4.20 while Phelpedo remained solid in wagering operations. Rachael Murray came from the outside barrier on Zioptimus to clear the field and dash away from Trent and Selective with the Colt Prosser trained gelding, Phelpedo, well positioned and Je Suis Tycoon midfield on the fence. Zioptimus was challenged by Trent as the field raced for the judge before Star of Pompeii burst out of the pack and began to stake a claim with Phelpedo sustaining the run down the outside. Star of Pompeii momentarily raced to the front before being claimed by Peter Graham on Phelpedo with the Delago Deluxe gelding having a length to spare on the line. Je Suis Tycoon is a former Victorian mare now in the safe hands of Neil Godbolt and the run was most encouraging after racing in the middle of the pack and being presented with a chequered passage down the home running.
Race 7: NHP Electrical Engineering BM 58 Hcp (1206m): Prominent Taree trainer, Matthew Robinson, engaged Ben Looker as pilot for On My Terms with the Dubai’s Choice mare sensationally supported to start at $4.20 and second favourite behind Typhoon Bonny. Uncanny Effort raced to a narrow lead from On My Terms with Terry Treichel sitting handily on Typhoon Bonny and Ilia was camped off the early speed. Toast was trapped deep but made a move as the field approached the home bend while Crossing Guard and Yambaah Prince were warming up to their tasks down the outside. Typhoon Bonny was able to shake off the early challenge of On My Terms and drive to the front before being claimed by the Angela Davies-trained gelding, Yambaah Prince and Crossing Guard from the Paul Perry training establishment. In the drive to the line, Yambaah Prince was able to score a narrow victory from Crossing Guard with Typhoon Bonny running her usual honest race in third position. Toast and Ilia were not beaten far with On My Terms yielding ground over the concluding stages of the event.
Horses to Follow: Litt Up, Magic Name, Je Suis Tycoon