By Tony Megahey
Emotions will again be running high when former jockey Tash Burleigh saddles up rejuvenated gelding Territorial for Saturday’s TAB $60,000 Highway Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens.
When Territorial, a Snowden team discard, part-owned by Raiders’ NRL captain Jarrod Croker, won the Graeme Spackman Memorial (1000m) at Goulburn recently in near track record time, it was a tearful occasion for many.
The Goulburn racing fraternity were deeply affected when Spackman, a friend and advisor for his racing neighbours, passed away in January suffering from cancer.
Tash was apprenticed to Spackman, and after retiring from race riding two years ago with close to winners, she extended the friendship by becoming his stable foreman. Tash acquired her training licence last November, and took over most of Spackman’s team.
“It was just so lovely to win “Spacky’s” race; so many of his family and friends were there, some part owners, and the horse went just super for them,” Tash enthused.
Tash rides her own track work at Goulburn, including Territorial “for the right feel”, along with her partner, former leading regional rider Patrick Murphy, who retired because of weight struggles.
Territorial, a three-year-old Real Saga gelding is weighed on 56kgs for regular rider Adrian Layt in a “hot” Highway flyer containing five last start winners including stable mates from the multiple series winning stables of Danny Williams, and Anniversary Highway winner, Rod Northam.
Territorial has emerged with a compelling mix of speed and stamina. If a modest Goulburn maiden win was encouraging enough last prep, Territorial progressed to the class I Spackman race and rated through the roof. His spectacular 56.051 was in a “photo” with the 1000m, 56.050 track record set by Obey Orders back in 2009. So a serious prospect has emerged from a near hopeless start.
“I was lucky to syndicate him after he hadn’t shown much for the Snowden’s as a colt,” Tash explained. “Then he thrived down here in new surroundings. After he won his maiden as a colt, we turned him out and had him gelded. He came back fantastic. I ride him work, and he’s improved out of sight. Last start he was drawn out, caught wide, but just kept coming strongly and ran time. And when he ran second at Canberra it was a massive run again from near last.
“We decided the form was good enough and the timing right for a Highway. I’ve had a couple of city placings, so we’re hoping.”
Territorial will be firm in betting markets behind Goulburn neighbour Williams with class 3 Randwick Highway winner She Knows, and highly rated stable mate Volpe. Danny has won has won the past two Highway events with O’Lordy and Tiger by the Tale.
Respected southern region SKY Racing form analyst John Scorse had the last word on Territorial. “It was as impressive a restricted race win as you’d see,” Scorse offered. “Not just the time; it was drawn wide and posted in a fast run race, but still let down to get right over the top of them.”