By Geoff Newling
Race 1 Cobb ‘N’ Co arrived late to post a career first in today’s Kings Pharmacy Walcha Vet Supplies Maiden Plate at Walcha.
The Dean McHardie-trained gelding, ridden by Matthew McGuren, flew late to grab Grant Prosser’s Mother’s Presence for a half neck win. Stephen Gleeson’s Isadiva was also a late arrival, a length and a quarter away third.
Mathew McGuren admitted it was tough on the son of Zariz, who had been winless in his 13 starts.
“It was hard work but he got there,” he told Dean McHardie as he unsaddled.
“It took me the whole 1440m to get there. He didn’t travel well and it’s hard work in these conditions but Dean has done a good job with him.”
“He’s a big lazy bugger,” he said. ”He is going to be better next prep as a four-year-old.”
A $24 chance Cobb ‘N’ Co has “nothing special” in front of him according to his trainer but might bump up to a mile.
Race 2 George Woodward is the lone trainer on course at Walcha and celebrated by winning the Peter Norbury Motors Tony Williams Machinery Benchmark 55 Handicap (1700m) on his home track with Sandy Waters.
The consistent mare started a $20 chance and led to beat Stephen Gleeson’s honest mare Dancing Daydream by two lengths. Therese Lennon’s seven-year-old daughter of Casino Prince, Smart Bet, was a head away third.
All the plaudits were with sandy Waters, ridden perfectly by Peter Graham.
“It was a good win,” George Woodward said.
“It’s nice to win one at home. She’s an honest mare but is a winter mare.”
Heat stress has played a big part in her losses while owner/trainer George Woodward believes his foreman, Johno Byrne, also plays a major role in any success.
Byrne, a Walcha product, has been working for Woodward for four years and enjoys the challenge.
“We have 15 in work,” he said. “They keep us busy.”
Race 3 The Lion handed Kootingal trainer Michelle Fleming the biggest win of her career when the three-year-old gelding unleashed late to win today’s $32,000 Woodie Wonder Racing/OK Earthmoving Ron Martin Memorial Maiden Handicap (1000m).
The gelding son of Arlington had debuted with a good second to Larlabrook in a recent Tamworth maiden and franked that form when he closed quickly in the final 100m.
Just when the Cody Morgan-trained My Little Diva looked a winner when Jackson Murphy kicked her clear at the top of the straight Mollie Partridge and The Lion roared.
“I thought he would be finishing off late,” Partridge said. “He’s still green.”
Michelle Fleming was bubbling with excitement after her gelding’s success.
“That’s my biggest win,” she said.
“It’s the most prizemoney I’ve ever won. He’s a very nice horse and will improve tenfold.”
The Lion is by Arlington, a stallion owned by former leading bookmaker Bruce McHugh.
“Bruce McHugh bred him and I lease him off him,” Fleming said.
“I’ve got some of my friends and family in him too.”
Race 4 Hot Hit was a big hit when Walcha Jockey Club staged its inaugural Stacks Law Firm Lightning Handicap (1000m) today.
A dominant favourite the big chestnut, trained by Mark Mason at Tamworth, swooped on Don’t Tease Me in the final 100m and scored a win by a neck
It handed Matthew McGuren a winning double after he had won the first race.
McGuren was confident “600m out” but had to extract Hot Hit suddenly without causing interference nearing the turn.
“I wanted to keep hi momentum going,” the winning jockey said. “But from the 600m I was always pretty confident.”
Mark Mason was too.
He thought his gelding was perfectly placed to launch and then celebrated a narrow but impressive win.
“He was a little bit tardy out of the barriers but once he got on the bit and pulled his way up there I was confident,” he said.
Mason has picked out a race in Sydney for Hot Hit as his most likely next assignment.
“There’s benchmark 70 at Warwick Farm in a month,” he said.
“He (Hot Hit) has a city rating of 71 benchmark points hopefully this won’t affect that too much. He deserves to win a city race though.”
Mason didn’t discard the possibility of running in the Quirindi Jockey Club’s Lightning later in the month.
Race 5 Fashion Model set a new race record when the Coffs Harbour mare cruised to victory in today’s Rod Schultz Business Solutions Class 3 Handicap (1440m) at Walcha.
The Brett Dodson-trained four-year-old daughter of I Am Invincible stopped the clock at 1min 25.88secs on her way to a two length win from Craig Martin’s Bullet Kid with topweight Gold Torque a long head away third.
Fashion Model had won in brilliant fashion at Armidale at her previous start when she had taken a sit and then peeled out to record a three and a half length win.
Today she jumped straight to the front and was never in trouble.
“She flew,” jockey Matthew Bennett said.
“She was going half pace and travelled all the way up the hill.”
He and Brett Dodson had two plans before today’s race.
“It depended on how she jumped,” Dodson said.
“If she didn’t jump we could take a sit if they went quick. If she jumped then we could be up there too.
“This was a pretty good race for her. She had come over the range to win at Armidale on a similar sort of track.”
Brett Dodson has had her for five runs and she has won three of those and finished third twice.
“She came to me in good order and has thrived since. I’ll see how she pulls up but I might tip her out,” he said.