As with life, racing can be full of surprises. And that was exactly the case at Hawkesbury on Tuesday when local horses Skilled Magic ($31) and Lion Couchant ($4.80) notched victories.
Trainer Tommy Wong thought his lightly-raced three-year-old Skilled Magic might have had a place chance at best in the Thomson Geer Lawyers Maiden Handicap (1000m), but certainly didn’t entertain him winning.
Left: Tye Angland is all smiles after winning on Lion Couchant at Hawkesbury. Image by - Bradley Photographers
Yet he came through along the inside rail under Jeff Penza’s urgings and edged out strongly-fancied Yeays And Nays ($2.80) when that horse drifted away from the fence and presented him with a clear passage to the line.
Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Ethne Potowski cannot believe her gutsy sprinter Lion Couchant has now two races on end on good tracks, having previously preferred wet ground because of feet problems. Lion Couchant won his sixth race when he led throughout in the Blacktown Workers Club Group Benchmark 75 Handicap (1000m).
Skilled Magic had debuted on his home track on May 9 and beat only one home in Japhite’s 1000m Maiden Plate.
“He didn’t go too good that day,” Wong admitted after Skilled Magic’s win. ”I haven’t galloped him since. I gave him a week off after that first race and then gave him pacework.”
Potowski has done a superb job with six-year-old Lion Couchant, who has developed a special affinity with both his home 1000m circuit and jockey Tye Angland. Five of the gelding’s six wins have been at the Hawkesbury 1000m, and Angland has successfully partnered him on five occasions (including a Gosford 1100m success).
“Lion Couchant never did anything before on good tracks, but his feet are improving,” Potowski said. “And Tye (Angland) has had a lot to do with his current form. He goes so well for him.”
Potowski, though, deserves great credit for Lion Couchant’s performances. She bred and foaled him, and said he suffered from laminitis early in his career: “At one stage we thought he might have to be put down, but he came good,” she said.
Potowski doesn’t do a lot with Lion Couchant, working him at home on the hills: “He has only been to the track once since his last win,” she said.
Angland feels Lion Couchant’s brilliant speed out of the barrier is helping him win races: “He is more comfortable in front; he gets a bit crowd shy when in behind other horses. But he dug deep today. It was a good win.”
Lion Couchant won first-up with 61kg in a Benchmark 65 Handicap (1000m) on May 18, and had 3kg less today for the rise in class. However, Potowski fears she will now have to find a suitable race in town to try and keep her gelding’s winning momentum going.