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Geoff Newling Reviews Gunnedah's Christmas Hams Meeting


GOLDEN Legacy carved out a new class record when the Tamworth gelding sizzled to a dominating win in Saturday’s $20,000XXXXGold Jingle Bells Maiden Plate (1000m) at picturesque Riverside Racecourse, Gunnedah.

The Mark Mason-trained gelding son of Northern Meteor was having just his third race start (after placings at Tamworth and Gunnedah) and impressed all with his flashing win in 56.88secs.

“He’s a nice horse,” jockey Ben Looker said as he cruised to a four and half length win from Kenneth with Bushie’s Crumpet a head away third.

“Put paid to them pretty quick. I couldn’t wait any longer and he showed a real nice turn of foot.

Mark Mason said Looker’s ride was perfect, camping in behind the leaders before Looker extracted him three wide to make his winning run.

The turn of foot then kicked in.

“Ben gave him the run of the race,” Mark Mason said.

“He always looked the winner.”

It was a welcome respite to for Mason.

Golden legacy had hovered between odds-on and even money favouritism.

“My last five runners have all started odds-on favourite,” he said.

“The other four all got beat. The boss (chief steward Shane Cullen, who was hovering nearby) told me I’d better win otherwise I’d be going for a holiday,” he joked.

Mr Cullen heard the chatter and gave him an affirming nod and grin.

Mark Mason said Golden Legacy’s next run might be at Tamworth in the New Year.

He also knew why Golden Legacy had set only a class record and not a track record.

“Lasting faith holds the track record, 55 something,” Mark Mason grinned of his former star sprinting mare.



THERE was a little bit of symmetry about Lexi McPherson’s second career win at Gunnedah on Saturday.

The 19-year-old four kilogram claiming apprentice was having her 19th ride aboard Oxiorose in the $20,000 Have a Quaddie At Gunnedah Maiden Plate (1000m).

The Jeremy Sylvester-trained five-year-old mare kicked strongly in the straight to register a three quarter length win from Cody Morgan’s Moscow Mistress with Ian Symons’ Snippet Assured a long head away third.

Oxirose was having a first run back from a spell after a debut second at Cessnock and then a fourth at Gosford.

Lexi McPherson was an excited young lady.

From Cessnock she’s been riding track work for “about three years”.

“Then started riding (in races) in May,” she said.

“Rode my first winner at Taree on Melbourne Cup day. Today was my first winner for my master.”

She is endentured to Jeremy Sylvester at Cessnock and has a two word description of her riding career.

“Love it,” she said through a beaming smile.

Jeremy Sylvester was delighted for his young apprentice and happy to see his mare, a daughter of Kempinskey, win first up.

“She had 18 months off,” he said of the chestnut mare.

“Haven’t trialled her but given her plenty of slow work.”

She was having her first run for Sylvester.



IT’S Relative has a bright future after breaking through in Saturday’s $20,000 Shenhua Watermark Coal Drive Safely Towards Zero Maiden Handicap (1400m).

The Stirling Osland-trained gelding son of Related was having his fifth race start and fought on strongly to beat King Solomon by a half length with race favourite Amare three lengths away third.

Ben Looker rode three-year-old It’s relative for his Armidale trainer and believes the gelding has a bright future.

He still had his ears pricked when he hit the front,” Ben Looker said.

He’s sort of dumb but I think he’ll run a mile. He might make a nice Grafton Guineas horse,” he told Stirling Osland.

Osland had thought Looker might have gone to the front a little early in the long and wide Gunnedah straight but delighted with the way his gelding fought on.

“He’s a three-year-old carrying top weight and only had four starts but giving them all weight.”

He broke the gelding in and thinks his best will come next year.

“I think he’ll be a really nice horse in 12 months,” he said.

“He’s still got a little filling out to do.”



MISS Fisher deserved to win Saturday’s $20,000 Gunnedah Taxi & Cabs Merry Christmas Class 1 Handicap (1000m),

That was the assertion by the four-year-old mare’s Muswellbrook trainer, Jan Bowen.

“She deserved that,” Jan Bowen said after the daughter of Snippetson had secured her second race win at her ninth start.

“A great run. Had everything against her too. All the noise here from the big crowd stirred her up and then one went through the barrier. She was a lather of sweat when she went past the post.”

Jeff Penza rode Miss Fisher and he thinks she has plenty to learn.

“She’s still green,” he told Jan Bowen.

“She was looking at the crowd coming down the straight.”

He said she also felt “lovely” and “hopefully will relax over time.”



CALL Me Brad ended a long and unlucky trail by winning Saturday’s $20,000 MPC Earthmoving & Heavy Haulage Reindeer’s Dash Benchmark 50 Handicap (1000m) at Gunnedah.

The Lesley Jeffriess-trained gelding nosed out Dynamite Dan to notch a second career win.

His only other win had come at Grafton.

“He’s just been knocking on the door,” Lesley Jeffriess said.

“Just been unlucky. At Wellington (last start) he got flattened on the first turn. Things like that. And he drew an alley today as well, the first time for  long while.”

Jeffriess has nothing major in store for the five-year-old gelding son of Snippetson.

“Nothing really,” she said.

“Christmas is coming and always plenty of racing around. Inverell maybe.”



DREAMNOMORE may be a dream for evermore after her impressive win at Gunnedah on Saturday.

The Rod Northam-trained daughter of Dreamscape might have given jockey Ben Looker some early palpitations but then travelled smoothly to run away with the Become a GJC Member Today Class 1 Handicap (1400m),

“She spat out the bridle after 20m,” Ben Looker told Rod Northam after unsaddling.

He was able to settle her without screwing or reefing or head and “she travelled beautifully after that”.

“She travelled like she was going to win all the way.”

It was also Looker’s third win of the day and made up for a losing effort on Born In Barcelona for Northam earlier in the meeting.

Dreamnomore is still developing, Rod Northam said.

“She has grown a little bit but always shown us ability, just didn’t want to go straight.

“We put earmuffs and blinkers on her.”

That has worked a treat and now has the mare well positioned to ascend in the country racing ranks.



KILMARNOCK made up for a close up third in the Diggers Cup at Inverell recently by winning Saturday’s $20,000 Mannion Drilling/Ultrafleet Christmas Hams Cup (1600m) at Gunnedah Jockey Club’s picturesque Riverside Racecourse.

On a huge day for the local club where the crowd numbered more than 3000 Kilmarnock swept to a brilliant win in the feature race.

Vlad Bolozhinskyi, who had partnered the Armidale gelding at Inverell, was on top again and able to dash the son of Husson to a fifth career win.

Owner/trainer Lea Selby was delighted.

“He’s taken a while but he’s a nice horse,” Lea Selby said.

“He won a trial up home and ran 32 seconds for the final 600m. That’s unheard of up there. He’s just a gem.”

An Inverell Cup (1400m) on New Year’s Day could be on his range finder now, while Lea Selby would love nothing better than to win an Armidale Cup with him if he continues to race so strongly.



ABOUT Time arrived in time to give his Gunnedah trainer a Christmas Ham and some local promotion when the seven-year-old gelding won Saturday’s $20,000 Power Control and Communications Santa’s Sprint Benchmark 65 Handicap (1300m) at Gunnedah.

Gavin Groth prepares About Time at his Gunnedah and was confident his son of Danehill Express could win the Santa’s Sprint and provide plenty of Christmas cheer.

“We set him for this,” Gavin Groth said after about Time had blasted home in the final 200m to beat Rod Northam’s Hooge by a half length with the George Woodward-trained Loud Enough a close up third.

“He goes well first up but I don’t think I’ve had him any better. He’d been working very well, i was pretty confident. Ken (Dunbar) rode him well, it just panned out well.”

Winning at his home track is always a bonus for Groth but winning at this particular meeting with such a large crowd (more than 3000) on track was even better. It also gave him one of the renowned Gunnedah Christmas hams.

Ken Dunbar thought About Time was enormous even though he was “squeezed out” at one stage and lost some ground.

“He got into a nice rhythm,” Ken Dunbar told Groth.

“I just had to wait, wait and wait.”

When he unleashed About Time the gelding responded strongly, hitting the line better than anything else in the race.

Watch free replays of Gunnedah's Christmas Hams Meeting here.

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