By Doug Ryan
Winner of the Harrington Hotel Harrington Cup, Gosford mare Kopite ($2.60) was one of three wins from three rides for jockey Aaron Bullock at Manning Valley Race Club’s TAB meeting at Taree before a record crowd on Thursday.
The five-year-old Adam Duggan-trained mare justified equal favouritism to hold out Taree gelding Fuel ($2.60), trained by Wayne Wilkes, by a half-head in a spine-tingling finish to the 1300m event. It was Kopite’s second win at the Bushland Drive Racecourse, the mare having also scored by 2.3 lengths over 1250m on December 3.
“She is only small but she is all heart,” Duggan said. “That was her seventh win for us,” head syndicate owner Joel Singles said of the mare leased by eight friends. Duggan added: "She likes it here ... a gusty effort, a tough win.”
Bullock said he had to go early on the mare and she chased seven wide on the turn: “She is only small and had to give them weight.” Fuel is a newcomer to the Wilkes stable and showed grit to be runner-up at the track at its last two starts.
Race club chairman, Greg Coleman, at the cup presentation thanked the record crowd, Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Corey Brown for being a trackside attraction and the efforts of Adam Nixon from the Harrington Hotel for making the day a huge success.
Bullock combined with Newcastle trainer Jason Deamer to turn five-year-old gelding Zigamore’s fortunes around with a solid half-neck win in the Professionals Real Estate Harrington Class 3 Handicap over 1600m.
“My horse tries hard but hasn’t had much luck until today. Even though he was three wide he gave plenty at his fourth run back from a spell,” Deamer said.
Bullock’s other win was by 1.25 lengths on three-year-old gelding Jack’s Bar ($2.30 to $2), trained at Newcastle by Kris Lees, in the L J Hooker Real Estate Harrington Maiden 1000m. It was Bullock’s first winning treble at Taree, having just returned from a suspension.
Lees’s stable boss Cherie Marshman said Jack’s Bar, a big, strong type, sprinted well fresh from a spell even though she felt the race was short of the galloper’s best: “It was a better win than it looked as he was five wide at one point ... but he let down good,” Bullock said.
On a day dominated by visiting gallopers, apprentice jockey Mikayla Weir registered her first winning double at the track on No Qualm ( $15) for Coffs Harbour trainer Warren Gavenlock in the Club Harrington-Oxley Anchorage Caravan Park Benchmark 55 Handicap over 1000m and on Merriwa for Newcastle trainer Phillip Atkins in the Harrigan’s Irish Tavern Benchmark 57 Handicap over 1000m.
Gavenlock said he felt that his six-year-old gelding had the race won at the 600m when the galloper was circling around the field, it scoring by 1.75 lengths. Four-year-old mare Merriwa ($3.50) has had three starts at the track for two wins and a close second at its previous start, it scoring by just under a length.
Three-year-old Rosehill gelding Ocean Express ($2.15) showed its class for trainer Tim Martin and part owner John Wasik from Newcastle with a dominant all the way 2.75 length win for apprentice James Innes jnr in the Colonial Holiday Park Leisure Village 3YO Maiden 1250m. Innes said the galloper was still learning: “It is just a matter when the penny drops.”
Lees had a winning double when four-year-old mare I Am Awesome ($2.80) led all the way for apprentice Louise Day to score by two lengths in the Coopernook Hotel Maiden Plate over 1400m. Racing returns to Taree for a seven-race TAB meeting on January 15.