By Doug Ryan
Port Macquarie’s emerging galloping star, five-year-old gelding Glitra (paying $8.10 on TAB), qualified for the $80,000 Stacks Law Firm Taree Gold Cup on August 20 with an emphatic three-length win at Taree on Thursday.
It provided the biggest win for Port 18-year-old apprentice jockey Cejay Graham who is indentured to trainer John Sprague, he being blown away by the gelding’s fourth win for him in a short stint. Also celebrating were 84-year-old Laurieton head owner Jan Tate who was trackside with her fellow owner, daughter Jenny Gray, her daughter, Jessee Ross, and Jan’s great grandchildren, Poppy, aged three and Ashton, only 11 weeks old.
“John said our horse was jumping out of its skin, the horse has gone from strength to strength,” said Mrs Tate. She and her syndicate of women family members paid $18,000 for Glitra after it won two races with premier Newcastle trainer Kris Lees and they have been having a ball ever since with four wins and a close third placing in the $80,000 Coffs Harbour Cup over 1600m on August 3.
The win in the $22,000 Winning Post Function Centre Taree Cup Prelude-Benchmark 70 Handicap over 1624m at Taree Wingham Race Club’s TAB meeting means that Glitra is exempt from ballot from the Taree Cup over 2000m.
The galloper hasn’t raced beyond Thursday’s distance and Sprague hopes “he can get the 2000m.” Graham had no hesitation in leading all the way on Glitra after it jumped so well and it was full of running, with ears pricked, at the winning post.
Wyong nine-year-old gelding Nissile, trained by Damien Lane, was outside the leader for most of the race and stuck on well for second, the horse being more comfortable over the 2000m of the cup.
Not getting the best run and being placed awkwardly at a vital stage was Newcastle gelding The Getaway, trained by Paul Perry, which made up good ground to just nudge out Taree mare Who Is Game, trained by Michael Byers, which had a cosy run in a trailing position most of the way for jockey Robert Thompson.
The win of Glitra took its prizemoney to a tick over $100,000, a nice result for connections who have raced many gallopers over about three decades. Sprague and Coffs Harbour jockey Raymond Spokes combined to give the trainer a winning double with “sacked” five-year-old gelding Drummed Out ($3.80) in the Adrian Owen Equine Veterinarian Benchmark 60 Handicap over 1265m.
The galloper was sold for $10,000 until Monday when the sale fell through, the connections now not only having the gelding to try and sell again but also $11,200 in prizemoney which they are putting towards buying another racehorse. “The owners can have the last laugh now,” Sprague said.
The gelding made it two wins at Taree from its past six starts and three with a win at Port from the same number of outings after being given a nice trail before scoring by a half-neck.
Trainer Lane didn’t go empty-handed as his four-year-old gelding Rastarfarian ($4.20), ridden by Matthew McGuren, led all the way to score by a half-head from Taree gelding Bluemoon Dream, owned by David Callaughan and trained by Ross Stitt in the De Bortoli Wines Class 1 Handicap over 1265m.
Perry also had a two-length win with resuming three-year Final Frontier ($3), ridden by Paul King, in the XXXX Gold Cup Carnival 3YO Maiden Handicap over 1012m. First-starter Pride Of Darci ($1.60) justified the backing and short odds in the Taree Cup Weekend—August 18 & 20 Maiden Plate over 1319m by scoring by 2.25 lengths for Rosehill trainer Tim Martin and jockey Yusuke Ichikawa.
A freshen up and a back in the field ride early paid dividends with Taree six-year-old gelding Akamin ($29.10), owned by Noel and Celia Death, trained by Matthew Robinson and ridden by Ben Looker, scoring a half-head win in a busy finish to the Taree Cup Calcutta Dinner—August 19 Benchmark 54 Handicap over 1012m.
Despite being carted five-wide on the turn, Hawkesbury gelding Tuivasa ($7.30), trained by Nick Mitchell and ridden by Chris O’Brien, had too much class to score by just under two lengths in the Stacks Law Firm 3YO’s & Upwards Maiden Handicap over 1624m.
Racing returns to Bushland Drive Racecourse on Friday August 18, and for the cup at Sunday’s Country Showcase TAB meeting on August 20.