Local trainer Bob Milligan is lamenting his filly Valbeata, a stylish winner at Taree-Wingham Race Club’s TAB meeting on Saturday, didn’t get a start in the $400,000 Country Final of The Championships at Royal Randwick the same day.
The three-year-old was most unlucky when fourth in the $150,000 Mid North Coast Qualifier at Taree on February 26, then missed a fitness run and chance of winning when Krambach Race Club’s meeting was abandoned after two races due to the wet on March 15. A win could have earned her a place in the Scone Wild Card qualifier for the Country Final where, as it turned out, she was first emergency and didn’t get a run.
To say the stable was frustrated by the string of events is an under statement, especially after Valbeata ($3, paid $3.60 on TAB) showed her class by being second last on the turn on the heavy 10-rated track on Saturday to then easily storm to victory by 3.25 lengths.
The time for the Saxby’s Drury Distribution Class 3 Handicap over 1000m was just over two seconds outside the class record set in 2009 and 23-year-old Kendall apprentice jockey Chloe Baker gave her a comfortable ride to the line: “I was shuffled back to second last and when I let her go she went whoosh. She has a lovely turn of foot ... a beautiful ride,” Baker said.
She has posted all of Valbeata’s three wins in 10 starts and didn’t ride her in the Taree qualifier, having to ride her master Wayne Wilkes galloper Fox Creek, the mount going to Rachael Murray.
Milligan’s son, Glen, said after Saturday’s race: “She should have been in The Championships in Sydney.” His father paid tribute to the filly: “She is only small and goes alright. She might have another run or go for a spell.”
He thinks he paid about $10,000 for her and as far as next year’s Championships is concerned, a lot of water will flow under the bridge by then. Milligan’s Another Valley won last year’s MNCRA qualifier then was an unlucky fourth in the Sydney final.
The stable had a big day on Saturday as Valbeata took her prizemoney to $67,000 and she also won a BOBS bonus up to $9000. Milligan nearly notched a winning treble, he scoring with first-starter, two-year-old filly Lots Of Diamonds ($21), also ridden by Baker, in the Saxby’s Soft Drinks Maiden 1000m, also having a short half-head second with three-year-old gelding Great Grats ($15) , ridden by Wauchope apprentice Jackson Murphy, behind Taree’s Killy’s Culture ($21), trained by Ian McRobert.
The winner was a lucky late pick-up ride for Matt Bennett in the Saxby’s Ginger Lime And Bitters Maiden Handicap over 1400m. Milligan and Taree Dr Peter Braude have part ownership in all of the Taree trainer’s three gallopers.
Mid North Coast trainers fared well on the nine-race card, Taree trainer John McLachlan having his second win at the track with three-year-old gelding A lot Like Home ($1.70), ridden by local jockey Scott Thurlow, in the Saxby’s Bottled Water Maiden Plate over 1250m. McLachlan previously was also successful with Going Grey at the track after having “a change of environment from Inverell.”
Three-year-old Port Macquarie filly Dreamalina ($31), trained by Neil Godbolt and ridden by Matthew Paget, made it two wins from 12 starts in being handy all the way in the Saxby’s Flavoured Soft Drinks Benchmark 55 Handicap over 1000m. It beat Tamworth gelding Wide Eyed ($6.50), trained by Stephen Dixon, and was ridden by Baker who had a good day in the saddle.
Dixon’s gelding Mishani Istana ($7), another Baker ride, was also beaten, by a short head, by honest Newcastle gelding Southern Delight ($2), trained by Steve Hodge and ridden by Port Macquarie’s Peter Graham, in the Saxby’s Diet Ginger Beer Benchmark 55 Handicap over 2000m.
Wyong gelding Pinot Gris ($17), trained by Les Tilly, made it four wins from 34 starts, three of the wins being at Taree, and gave 35-year-old apprentice jockey Kellie Holding her first win at her seventh ride in the Saxby’s Ginger Beer Benchmark 55 Handicap over 1400m, the winning margin being a short head.
Other winners were Newcastle gelding Ramaway ($5), trained by Ken Lantry and ridden by Alison Threadwell in the Sacby’s Soft Drinks Maiden 1000m, and Keep The Dane ($7), trained at Wyong by Bob Holloway and ridden by Josh Adams in the Saxby’s Drury Distribution Class 2 Handicap over 1250m.