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Geoff Newling Reviews Today's Tamworth Meeting

RACE 1 Magic Over The Bay could be headed to Sydney for a Highway Handicap after the Narromine gelding surged to a second career win in today’s first race at Tamworth.

The Wayne Collison-trained three-year-old son of Magic Albert handled the Heavy 10 track well to beat Gavin Groth’s Leica Boot by one and three quarter lengths with Allan Foran’s Bonnie Sare third.

Allan Chau rode Magic Over The Bay who had won his maiden the start before at Gilgandra on 1 January.

“He’s been looking for the mile,” Wayne Collison said after today’s 1600m Carlton Mid Class 1 Handicap.

“He won pretty well at Gil and we knew he’d handle the track. When it was wet it was more incentive to come.”

Collison started his racing career as a young apprentice to Roy Hinton in Newcastle before finishing a three year stint with the late, great Ron Martin at Walcha.

“Ron had a lot of good horses in those days, horses like Queer Street,” he said. After his riding days Collison began training and now has a stable of twelve in work at Narromine.

“They keep me out of trouble, just enough to handle,” he said. “Been there 30 years.”

He is one of four trainers at Narromine with his daughter Kylie Kennedy also based there.

It makes training easier with a track almost to themselves.

Magic Over The bay was having his 10th start today and is beginning to realise what the racing caper is all about.

“He’s shown a little bit,” he said of the gelding bought at the Scone Inglis Yearling Sale for $20,000 by owner Rob Gainsford.

“But he has just not been quite mature enough.

“I will see how he pulls up and see where he goes with the ratings but I might give him a crack at a Highway Handicap.”

RACE 2 Mark Schmetzer is hoping Dormeuse’s trouble free win in today’s $20,000 Corey’s Catering F&M Benchmark 55 Handicap (1400m) at Tamworth might end a run of bad luck.

The Muswellbrook trainer has remained positive despite a run of poor fortune with horses scratched at barriers and having to be spelled.

Dormeuse was one of those who had no luck, being caught wide, drawing bad barriers or unable to obtain clear running in recent starts.

“She’s been thereabouts but had no luck,” he said as he watched a replay of a race where she sailed to victory down the middle of the track from Mourabie (Allan Foran) and Our Magic Madge (Kevin Dixon).

“Hopefully that’s the change of luck we need.”

With 20 in work Schmetzer was also delighted for jockey Terry Green who is making a successful return to riding after a long layoff.

“Terry rides work for me, just us two,” Schmetzer said. “He works hard.”

Mark is also preparing for a big day on his home track at Muswellbrook next week.

“I’ve got two in, a maiden and Jetello,” he said.

RACE 3 Oti Thelis is likely to become part of Tim Martin’s Walcha Cup team after the gelding son of Power Of Destiny led all the way to win today’s TAB.com.au 3YO Maiden Plate (1400m) at Tamworth.

Yusuke Ichikawa rode the three-year-old and while he dwelt a little at the start had no worries leading and winning.

“He was a little slow away but after a couple of strides picked it up,” he said after a three and half length win from I Can Hear Music.

Ichikawa gave him head in the straight and raced away to win as a $1.60 favourite should.

Tim Martin was delighted.

“He’s always been thereabouts,” he said.

“He’s a nice horse but only a country horse. He will improve next time in too.”

Oti Thelis is raced by Nick Moraitis and sported the famous colours worn by the likes of Exceed and Excel.

Destiny’s Kiss also carried the colours to victory at Randwick on Thursday.

Martin will now turn his attention to next month’s Walcha Cup which he currently has three horses lined up for.

“Oti Thelis will probably go there too,” he said.

“I’m taking Hunter Jack up for it. He won the Armidale Cup last year and he’ll run first up in the Walcha Cup.”

Martin hails from Walcha but has never won his hometown cup.

“Won an Inverell Cup (Prudhoe Bay), a Glen Innes Cup (Kellwell), six Armidale Cups (Captain Starlight (2), Asante, In Rehearsal, Rock Cafe and Hunter Jack), a Quirindi Cup (Captain Starlight) and a Gunnedah Cup (Clear ‘N’ Out with Hughie Bowman. But never won a Walcha, Scone or Tamworth Cup. Been close a few times in the Scone Cup, ran third with Hunter Regent at Scone but alloy, who also won a Glen Innes cup for me, was the closest I’ve got in the Walcha Cup.”

RACE 4 Royal Valorem has taken 23 starts to win a race but now that he has he might have a few more in store after breaking through in today’s Bath Stewart and Associates Maiden Plate (1000m) at Tamworth.

The Bill Perrett-trained gelding, a third emergency, rocketed down the middle of the track to beat Dropyourbundall (Stephen Jones) by a half length with Old Friends (Paul Perry) a length and a half away third.

Royal Valorem is also something of a family horse.

Trained by Bill he was ridden by Nick Perrett, Bills son. Bill is also a co-owner along with father-in-law Sid Durbridge.

Nick was delighted with the break through win after he “pulled him in behind the leaders”.

When let loose he strode clear.

“Hopefully he’ll win a few more,” Nick Perrett said.

He also joked about “hoping” the trainer keeps him on.

Bill Perrett thought he was lucky just to be in the race.

“I didn’t think we’d get a run,” he said of the number 13 saddle cloth. He said the sprinting distance is his go.

“I’d just like to thank Richard Litt,” he said.

“He gave us the horse and said pay me when he wins.”

RACE 5 Stannis Baratheon might be a dead and buried character from the Game Of Thrones series but his equine namesake is thriving in a new location.

Formerly trained in Victoria the little five-year-old gelding transferred to Tamworth in December when he was one of five horses purchased by Queensland miner, Kris Thomas.

Thomas, who was schooled in Tamworth and a talented rugby league player with the then successful and Ron Surtees-coached Tamworth High side, has become a devoted racing fan over the last two decades.

Mark Hatch has trained most of them and was only happy to receive Stannis Baratheon in December and then watch him surge clear for a two length win from Theresa Stair’s In Bengal with Tim Martin’s Lady Selkie a half-length away third.

“Kris bought him,” Mark Hatch said after his winning debut for the stable. “Bought five of them at the same time. He arrived late December and I was going to run him in that $40,000 Maiden here (at the last Tamworth meeting) but he was too late.

“He’s been working really well and while it was his first run I did expect that. I didn’t know what he’d been doing down there but he has been working nicely since he’s been here.

When I looked at his form and he had wet track form I was even more confident.”

The $9 on offer about him was also a nice bonus to go with the prizemoney. “And he does have form over a longer distance too,” Hatch said.

RACE 6 So You Know took the first step towards a Walcha Cup-Quirindi Cup campaign when he surged to a dominant win today’s $20,000 FSDP Benchmark 70 Handicap (1200m) at Tamworth.

The Scott Thompson-trained seven-year-old gelding was always handy to leader Lucky Sky before racing clear for a two length win from Alaecia Bennett’s Captain Scott.

Colin Dixon-trained Lucky Sky held on doggedly for third.

So You Know notched his eighth career win at start 50 to kick his prizemoney through the $100,000 barrier.

It was his second win three starts and his fifth from 14 starts at Tamworth.

“He’s going super,” jockey Ben Looker told trainer Scott Thompson as he unsaddled.

“He did it easy. He was only waiting for them early.”

Looker said So You Know’s attitude and temperament are exceptional.

“It’s half the battle when they go out and try like that.”

Bill “Bot” Thompson used to be So You Know’s trainer, the Quirindi horseman and trainer handing over the reins to his son Scott this time in.

“He’s always been a trier,” Bot Thompson said.

“Not a great horse but an honest horse.”

Scott Thompson agreed.

“Yeah, he’s just been so honest for us,” he said.

So You Know’s next race will be the $35,000 Walcha Cup (1440m) on 1 February.

“He’s won over the 1400m,” Scott Thompson said.

“If he wins that we will try and stretch him out to the mile at Quirindi (Friday, 24 February).

RACE 7 De La Hoya might be headed towards a Highway Handicap in Sydney after he cruised to victory in today’s $20,000 Tamworth City Toyota Class 2 Handicap (1000m).

The Mark Mason-trained chestnut gelding, a five-year-old son of Dubleo, cantered to a two length win from Col’s Tiger (Sarah Gaffaney) with Deny Allcharges (Alaecis Bennett) a length and a half away third.

It was De La Hoy’s third win in eight starts for Mason, who also bred her.

A son of talented race mare Romantic Gaze De La Hoya was ridden perfectly by Robert Thompson.

“I don’t know what we are going to do when Robert retires,” Mark Mason said. “I might have to retire too.

“It was just a beautiful ride. He kept him out of trouble all the way.”

Mason declared De La Hoya has always shown ability.

“He has always been a handy little horse.

“Some of his runs last time looked ordinary but he drew bad barriers or had no luck.”

Where to next is something of a question mark for Mason.

“I don’t really know, I might just play it by ear,” he said.

“We might have a crack at a Class 3 Highway Handicap.”

RACE 8 Delagos swamped his opposition in an imposing last to first victory in today’s Thread Effects Benchmark 55 Handicap (1400m) at Tamworth.

The seven-year-old gelding gave his opponents six lengths start at the 600m, but with Chloe Baker claiming three kilograms, tacked on to the tail rounding the turn before surging past for a half length win from Michelle Fleming’s Slippery Eel with Sally Torrens’ Stirling Shadow a close up third.

Delagos, ridden by Chloe Baker, was having start number 79 for an eighth career win for Tambo trainer Bryan Dixon.

Bryan’s father, Bryan senior, is the stable foreman and was on hand at Tamworth to oversee the enormous win of a gelding who cost $1.3million as a yearling.

After being sold to Neil Godbolt at Port Macquarie he was then bought by Queensland owner/trainer Ron Hay, who is based at Taroom in Central Queensland.

Delagos won half a dozen races in country Queensland but Bryan senior told Hay he would be better off racing “down south” because of the big weights he was carrying and being a back marker on dirt tracks wasn’t ideal.

Bryan senior then brought Delagos and five other horses down to Tamworth.

“We don’t race up at home for three months from 3 December to 3 March,” Bryan Dixon said.

“Bryan (junior) has 15 up there too but he’s has a newborn baby."

Tiggy Dixon is just over a week old and came into this world as a bouncing nine pound four ounce baby boy.

“Delagos has been a good old money spinner for us,” Bryan Dixon said.

“Especially after winning at Wellington last start.”

Backed from 36-1 into 5-1 he came from last to slice along the rails for a memorable win.

Miss the action from today's Bathurst Cup Showcase Meeting? View the results and watch all the replays here.

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