Since Hawkesbury trainer Wade Slinkard decided to put blinkers on his six-year-old Legistation just over a month ago, the gelding has hit form with a vengeance. It reached a crescendo at Hawkesbury on Thursday when Legistation added to his growing track specialist reputation by clinching a hat-trick, making light of his 60kg in the Lander Toyota Benchmark 65 Handicap (1400m). All his six wins have been at home and, quite remarkably, he has had a different “pilot” in each of them.
Since Slinkard applied the blinkers, Legistation has won a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1300m) on June 10 with Chad Lever aboard and then the final heat of the Rising Star Series (a 1400m Benchmark 67 Handicap) on June 21 with Jean Van Overmeire in the saddle.
Slinkard wisely booked Hawkesbury apprentice Qin Yong for Thursday’s assignment; his 3kg lessening the gelding’s original 63kg topweight.
Anthony Cavallo rode Legistation in his 1300m Maiden victory in July, 2016 and Nick Heywood had the mount in September that year when he was successful in a 1400m Class 2 Handicap. Sydney’s current form jockey Jay Ford teamed with the Hawkesbury specialist to win another Class 2 (1300m) at home in April last year.
Punters didn’t forget to back Legistation to clinch a hat-trick, either. An $8.50 to $5.50 firmer, he never looked like losing once he straightened in front and his young rider took him to the centre of the track. He easily held his rivals at bay, defeating White Boots ($5) and $51 roughie All Things In Time.
Whilst Slinkard naturally was delighted to make it three wins on the bounce with Legistation, it appears attempting a seventh Hawkesbury victory isn’t on the cards in the near future.
“There isn’t another suitable race he can run in here,” he said. “I guess I’m going to have to try him in town if we can find something suitable,” he said. “I don’t do much with him between races; just a sprint-up and a bit of swimming.”
Slinkard’s hat-trick triumph with Legistation capped a day of highlights. Blake Shinn rode four winners (Bobbing, Sugar Buzz, Golden Hits and Vega) to lift his Hawkesbury tally for the season to 14 (Brenton Avdulla with 22 leads Tye Angland, 18, in the jockeys’ premiership).
Qin Yong’s win on Legistation, fittingly, was both his initial provincial success and first on his home track, and his 12th NSW victory since joining trainer Brad Widdup’s stable last year from China.
Fellow Hawkesbury trainers Bernie Kelly and Garry White also joined Slinkard in the winner’s stall; the former clinching his first win in nearly two years and the latter adding to what already has been a splendid season. Kelly, who has only three horses in his care, broke through for his first win since Atum won a Maiden Plate (1000m) at Wyong in September, 2016. His only runners since have been that horse, Gunbarrel Highway, Tempus and Bobbing ($6), who overcame a slow start to overhaul $2.30 favorite I’m A Legend in the Blakes Marine Metro & Provincial Maiden Handicap (1500m).
“He is still learning and I was a bit concerned about him jumping from 1200m to 1500m,” Kelly said.
“But it looks as though he needs that distance.”
Late starter Bobbing, a Beneteau four-year-old who has raced only four times, attracted the attention of RacingNSW stewards. They advised the gelding’s trainer an official warning would be recorded against his barrier manners after he proved difficult to load and became fractious.
White continued his terrific run this season, equalling his 2011-12 tally of 15 winners by snaring the Schweppes Class 1 Handicap (1300m) with Redemption Road ($8.50). It was his 10th Hawkesbury winner this season, and he is the leading local trainer with only one more meeting (July 15) remaining before the 2017-18 year closes. When he prepared 15 winners in 2011-12, 13 of them were on his home track.
Rising four-year-old Redemption Road has turned the corner since being gelded earlier this year, winning two of his four subsequent starts.
“It has definitely made the difference,” White said. “But I was a bit surprised he wasn’t more liked today (in the betting ring).
“He ran in a stronger race last time at Gosford and didn’t have any luck, and was dropping back from a Benchmark 65 to a Class 1.
“I thought he trialled really well at Hawkesbury last week in an Open heat.
“Redemption Road is not far off a break, but I might be able to find a suitable midweek in town for him before the season ends.”