Hawkesbury trainer Garry White is on a hot streak and contemplating loftier goals with Saturday’s Royal Randwick winner Letter To Juliette. Having just completed his best season since 2009-10 with 17 winners (11 at his home track), he has won two races (Royal Hootenanny scored at her debut for the stable at Hawkesbury last Thursday) with his first three starters in the opening days of the new racing year. In fact, he has won with three of his last four runners as Lady Chalfont was successful at the final meeting of the 2017-18 season at Newcastle last Tuesday.
White pulled off a terrific training feat with $31 roughie Letter To Juliette ($40 on the NSW TAB) when she scored first-up with 59kg in the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1800m) against her own sex. The Dane Shadow mare, who won the Orange Cup (2100m) in February, had not raced since finishing a forgivable eighth, after being forced to race wide throughout, to Roman Son in the Provincial Stayers Handicap (2100m) at her home track’s stand alone fixture on April 28.
“It was starting to get cold and Letter To Juliette was getting woolly, so I gave her two weeks off at the farm (her owner and long-standing client Grahame Mapp’s Hobartville Stud),” White said.
“She trialled nicely when third over 1250m at Hawkesbury on July 23, and this race looked suitable against her own sex.
“I knew she was fit enough and I thought her form was good enough. My only concern was the 59kg.
“Tye (Angland) gave her a great ride, and she wouldn’t lay down. She got the job done.”
Angland put Letter To Juliette in a winning position from the outset. Though under pressure coming to the turn, she rallied strongly and overhauled $2.90 favorite Sweet Victory and another Hawkesbury representative, Brad Widdup’s recent Warwick Farm winner Live To Dream ($11).
White has been patient with the mare. Saturday’s win was her fourth from only 18 starts, and she has also been placed on seven occasions. An experienced horseman who goes about his business without any fuss, White never blows his own trumpet. But he is understandably delighted with the way things are going.
“I had 70 horses in work many years ago but it drove me mad,” he said. “I keep no more than 14 to 16 in work at the stables at Hawkesbury, and we usually have another half dozen at the farm getting ready to come in.
“I have my own systems and by keeping the numbers at an acceptable level, I can give each horse more individual treatment. It’s working well.”
White says Letter To Juliette has come back stronger as a five-year-old and has a good attitude.
“I’ve got no doubt she will run further than yesterday’s 1800m,” he said. “I’ll probably throw in a nomination for The Metropolitan ($750,000 2400m Group 1 at Randwick on September 29).
“The Newcastle Gold Cup ($200,000 2300m Group 3 on September 14) looks a good sounding board to tell us if she is up to a race such as The Metropolitan.”
White’s only loser from his last four starters, Pursuit Of Honour, may back up at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday after his solid seventh (under 61.5kg) to White Boots in a Benchmark 67 Handicap (1800m) at Hawkesbury last Thursday.
White’s triumph with Letter To Juliette at Randwick put the seal on an excellent start to the new season by Hawkesbury trainers. As well as his own success with Royal Hootenanny at home last Thursday, Noel Mayfield-Smith and Scott Singleton also notched victories at Wyong and Goulburn respectively on Friday.
After nine placings, Mayfield-Smith’s Sun And Heir ($3.70) broke through at his 19th start in the Maiden Handicap (1350m) for four-year-olds and upwards at Wyong. Placed at four of his previous five starts, Sun And Heir had a new rider and a gear change – and it did the trick. Senior jockey Chad Lever took over on the Haradasun five-year-old, and Mayfield-Smith opted to race him without winkers. Given a nice run by Lever, the gelding cleared away over the closing stages to easily beat One Of The Kind ($13) and $2 favorite Helsonic.
Singleton and fellow Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup supplied the quinella in the opening Goulburn race – the 1300m Maiden Handicap – after the two horses battled for favouritism in the betting ring.
But it wasn’t such a tight contest on the track. Singleton’s Partners ($3) comfortably beat Widdup’s $2.90 favorite Sizzled.
Partners (Mitchell Bell) was having only his fourth start. The three-year-old son of Nicconi had resumed at Wyong on July 14 when third in a 2YO Maiden (1200m) on the back of two good trials.
Another Hawkesbury trainer Terry Croft will saddle the favorite No Escape, a last-start Randwick placegetter, in today’s Forbes Cup (1600m). Hawkesbury apprentice Qin Yong has the mount.
Croft is a regular visitor to the annual Forbes meeting. He won a supporting race there last year with No Escape and also Colonial Reign in 2016.