By Geoff Newling
RACE 1: Midge created an early upset when the Walcha filly won the first race on the Curlewis Cup meeting at Gunnedah Jockey Club’s Riverside course on Friday. Prepared by George Woodward, the three-year-old daughter of Therock bounced straight to the front from her inside alley and was never headed, beating second favourite Invincible Bot by a length with race favourite L’Appel Du Vide another two and a quarter lengths away third. Midge was having her fifth race start and coming off an unlucky second at Tamworth, said stable foreman John Byrne. “It was a good run at Tamworth, she came home strong on a heavy track,” he said. "However the win was still a surprise. We didn’t expect to lead but she showed a fair bit of speed today.” Second-placed Invincible Bot lost his winning chance at the turn, said trainer Scott Thompson. He had been outside the leader but lost a length turning for home and scrambled to make it up. He was having his first race start after trialling well for his Quirindi stable. Invinicble Bot is named after legendary Quirindi trainer Bill “Bot” Thompson, father of Scott Thompson. He was at Quirindi to see his namesake make his debut and honoured to have a nice young horse named in his honour by owner Hugh Tighe.
RACE 2: Jazzy Belle provided her Gunnedah connections with a perfect Curlewis Cup day start when she raced away from her opposition to post a comprehensive win in the Hopefuel Gunnedah Cup Now On Monday August 21 Maiden Handicap (1000m) at Riverside. The three-year-old daughter of Dixie Prospect led and then ran away from her rivals to win by four and three quarter lengths from the George Woodward-trained Smokey Eye with the Sue Grills-trained first starter Not A Princess a length away third. Alex Martyn prepares Jazzy Belle at Scone for a Gunnedah syndicate including Brian Lenton, Steve Pratt, and Tom Torrens along with former Tamworthian Dave “Croc” Dundas. “She’s always shown a bit,” Alex Martyn said. “Just had a few little problems with her but she is just starting to hit her straps. We put the winkers on her today too and switched her on a bit.” He said she had been running over 1200m but dropping her back to 1000m also paid off, Alex Martyn said. Cody Van Der Werf rode the filly and said she negotiated a few “wet patches”. “I cuddled her through a few of those patches,” she told Alex Martyn. “And she just kept running.” Steve Pratt, Tom Torrens and Brian Lenton also celebrated with club president Kevin Edmonds after the win after they secured as much as $26 on TAB Fixed Odds.
RACE 3: Sierra Negra could be headed to the paddock despite his breakthrough win at Gunnedah. The three-year-old gelding son of Medaglia D’oro stuck to the rail courtesy of another fine Rachael Murray ride to win the Commercial Hotel Curlewis Maiden Plate by a quarter of a length from Todd Howlett’s Dordogne with the Rod Northam-trained August In April three quarters of a length away third. It was also Rachael Murray’s 107th winner of the season. “She rode him a treat,” Sierra Negra’s trainer Peter Bloomfield said. “He did draw a good barrier for a change too.” He jumped from barrier three to score his first win at his sixth start for his owners. Winning at Gunnedah was somewhat ironical as well. “He went amiss here,” Peter Bloomfield said. “He was a bit sore in the feet after racing over a mile here. Then we took him to Dubbo after freshening him up but he was a bit uncertain on his feet.” Peter said Sierra Negra could now “be headed to the paddock."
RACE 4: Barricade swept to his third victory in four starts to win the $20,000 Rod Dugan Memorial Class 3 Handicap (1300m) at Gunnedah. The Peter Bloomfield-trained gelding son of Street Sense had won at Muswellbrook and Dubbo before running a close second in a Highway Handicap at Randwick last time out. On Friday he “tracked up nicely” Peter Bloomfield said for Greg Ryan to cut loose in a pulverising finish to snare a three length win from Mel Dennett’s Bunny Bad Girl. It was Barricade’s fourth win in 20 starts. “He’s always shown us a lot on the track,” Peter Bloomfield said. “We might have over worked him a bit earlier but we had to keep working him along. He’s also matured a bit and we’ve been able to back off a bit.” He said his horse and Greg Ryan “might have clicked” as well.
RACE 5: Cut The Mustard led all the way to win at Gunnedah for the filly’s trainer Melanie O’gorman. She prepares Cut The Mustard at her Erin Park stable on Tamworth’s outskirts but she wasn’t at Gunnedah’s Riverside course for victory in the Oaktree Retirement Villages Class 1 and Maiden Plate (1600m). Rather she was in Sydney where she had Suncraze who ran 2nd in a Highway Handicap on Saturday. The three-year-old gelding won on debut at Dubbo but has since recorded five successive seconds at Tamworth, Scone (2), Randwick and Newcastle. “He’s going really well,” Mel O’gorman said. “Hopefully he will run another good race like he did at Newcastle.” Cut The Mustard led all the way for Anthony Cavallo to snare a two length victory from Rod Northam’s My Tagoson. “She went good,” Cavallo said of the three-year-old daughter of Arlington. “Travelled well and finished well.” Melanie O’gorman trains the filly for Tamworth owners John Smyth and Terry Burke. “She is a nice filly,” Mel O’gorman said. “She has the ability but it was always about getting to the mile. Nice to win for John and Terry too.”
RACE 6: So You Know snuck along the rail to steal the TAB.com.au Riverside Rampage Benchmark 65 Handicap (1000m) at Gunnedah. Teenage apprentice Cejay Graham displayed poise, precision and patience to urge the Scott Thompson-trained gelding inside the leader, Yours Mine Ours, and grab a half length victory. Mossman’s Gold was another half length away third. Cejay Graham also claimed her eighth win in what has been a short but successful initiation. “I had to be patient,” she told winning trainer Scott Thompson as she unsaddled a seven-year-old gelding son of Snippetson who has now won nine of his 54 starts with 14 placings. Scott Thompson thought it a wonderful riding effort. “The perfect ride,” he said. “She didn’t try and ease out off the fence. Stayed there and waited and waited. But he is also an honest old horse." He has now won four races with him since he took over the training reins from his father, Bill “Bot” Thompson. Bot won five races with him and also owns him. “He’s no champion but a good honest horse, never runs a bad race unless he’s ridden badly.”
RACE 7: Avroson may have earned a trip to Grafton for a 2200m handicap after he continued his winning form to outstay favourite Present Sense in the $20,000 ME Coal Transport Curlewis Cup (1600m). The Brett Cavanough-trained gelding had won at Dubbo at his previous outing and repeated that effort to run down Present Sense and forge clear for his fifth career win. Josh Adams was the winning rider and he reported an easy win to Brett Cavanough. “Things worked out perfect for us,” Josh Adam told Brett Cavanough. “They slowed up for us, it was a good run.” Brett Cavanough is the third trainer to have prepared Avroson. “He’s a little fresh horse, so honest,” Brett Cavanough said. “He took all day to get there. If I’d been out fishing I’d have gone home by now but he will go to Grafton now for a 2200m race and a quick back up.” Avroson was his first win for the day after finishing second, third, fourth and fifth earlier in the day. “Been around the mark all day,” he said. “Going to be busy next week too. Have three in at Tamworth, then at Grafton and we race again at scone on Friday.” Cavanough will most likely be in Grafton supervising a Ramornie Handicap start for The Monstar. “We’ll see how he pulls up,” he said of Avroson’s proposed trip. “But The Monstar is fine, he’s real good.”
RACE 8: Shrapelli powered home to make it two wins in succession when the Wyong visitor claimed the XXXX Gold Wal Turner Memorial Benchmark 65 Handicap (1400m) at Gunnedah. The three-year-old daughter of Shrapnel had won at Quirindi at her previous outing and followed that up by holding off Peter Blanch’s Double Eagle for a half length win. Jane Clement’s Lady Balladeer was a neck away third. It was Shrapelli’s second career win and a good one too, said winning jockey Jeff Kehoe. His brother, Allan, trains the filly who has had just the 10 starts. “She goes good,” Jeff Kehoe said. “I’ve had just the three rides on her for a fourth at Nowra, a win at Quirindi and today. She fought on real well today.” He began his riding career as a young apprentice in Coonamble. “Started with the late John Lundholm,” he recalled. “Then finished with Robbie Harrison before moving to Dubbo. Then I went down to Wyong with my brother at Wyong, he’s going real well.” However, a spate of injuries where Jeff broke his foot, Allan broke his leg and one of their female work riders broke her leg steadied the stable for a while. “We’re back and going well now,” he said.