By Geoff Newling
Aquajewel has her chance to notch a second successive win for her Ballina trainer just a week after breaking through on her new home track at Ballina today. The four-year-old daughter of Love Conquers All swamped her rivals at Ballina last Monday when she flew late to win the $20,000 tab.com.au Benchmark 60 Handicap (1000m).
She was having her fourth start for Ballina trainer Steve Phelps and won for the first time for him but her third career win. All three wins have been on heavy tracks and with the Ballina track rated a Heavy 10, she looks like the one to beat again.
“She pulled up real good,” Steve Phelps said of a mare who has won three of her 22 starts and after her first win at Ballina. “Allan Jones sent her down to me from Caloundra. That was her fourth start for me. She is a wet tracker but it’s going to be a lot wetter, it’s a very Heavy 10.”
She is his only runner on a day where the stable is still lamenting the loss of former star, Maltese Beauty. The son of Rivotious won 28 races for Steve Phelps as well as another 35 or so placings. He passed away last week and is buried at the front of the Phelps stables.
“He was a wonderful horse,” Steve Phelps said. “Won a Ballina Cup, Coffs Harbour Cup, Wyong, Newcastle and Canberra Cups. Won four races in town (Brisbane) too and won everywhere from 1000m to 2400m.”
A tough front-runner, Maltese Beauty won many of his races by leading and refusing to relent over the final 600m. “He won the Coffs Harbour Cup on a bog track by 18 lengths,” Steve Phelps recalled.
With a Heavy 10 in store for all runners at Ballina, Steve is hoping Aquajewel can reproduce the same finish to celebrate the memory of Maltese Beauty.
Aquajewel has to cope with two more kilograms (56kg compared to 54kg last Monday) and a wide gate (barrier 9) while Matthew McGuren replaces Ben Looker as the jockey.