Hawkesbury trainer Garry White isn’t resting on his laurels.
Fresh off the back of his most successful season since 2009-10 when he also prepared 17 winners, White wasted no time opening the new racing year with another winner at his home track on Thursday.
He landed the Hawkesbury Courier & Gazette Conditional Benchmark 72 Handicap (1000m) with former Queensland mare Royal Hootenanny ($4.60), a recent addition to his stable.
In the process, White’s apprentice Ashleigh Borg made it three wins from her last three rides, having scored on stablemates Brown Thomas at Hawkesbury on July 15 and Lady Chalfont at Newcastle on Tuesday.
His decision to give the Royal Hootenanny mount to his young rider clearly proved a winning move. Her 4kg claim lessened the mare’s weight to 51kg and after showing plenty of pace, Royal Hootenanny held off topweight Stone Cold ($3.70) in receipt of a tidy 6.5kg. Third placegetter Invincible Gangsta ($5.50) humped 59.5kg.
As a result of a connection with the co-owner of another of White’s horses, Dunatun, the six-year-old mare joined White’s team after finishing third in a Benchmark 70 Handicap (1050m) at Toowoomba on June 9.
“Royal Hootenanny’s managing owner David Chisholm and Dunatun’s Jeff Bentley know each other well,” White explained. “Royal Hootenanny is going to stud this season, and she was sent to me to see if we could win another race or two with her before she retires from racing.
“Our main focus was to teach her to relax better, and she was terrific today. She walked around the enclosure like an ‘old cow’ and went straight into the barrier without a problem. I realise she had only 51kg, but she was strong to the line. We’ll look for another suitable race for her.”
White went into Thursday’s race with confidence after the Hidden Dragon mare, with Borg aboard, easily beat five rivals in a 760m trial at Hawkesbury on July 23. He was delighted also that his apprentice had made it three wins on the trot, lifting her career tally to six.
White, Hawkesbury’s most successful trainer last season at home meetings with 11 winners, also saddled $41 outsider Pursuit of Honour in the final event, the Hawkesbury Race Club Motel Benchmark 67 Handicap (1800m).
The gelding was weighted on 65.5kg and carried 61.5kg after Borg’s claim. A dual city winner who is on the comeback trail, he ran well to finish seventh to $2.25 favorite White Boots, beaten just over three lengths.
“I reckon that’s the heaviest saddle I have ever carried,” White said. “There was about 16kg of dead weight in it.”