RACE 1 WARHORSE AGAIN – SUNDAY 26TH APRIL MAIDEN 1:15 PM (1536M)
The opener appeared to be a race in two on paper between SALVAGED and AIN’T NO MORE, and that is exactly how it unfolded with the John Askevold-trained AIN’T NO MORE posting a short half-head victory. AIN’T NO MORE was patiently ridden by Jason Whiting early, before being asked to improve in the three-wide line from the 600 metres and loomed large at the top of the straight, getting his neck in front of SALVAGED with 200 metres to go, before taking the foot off the brake late and almost allowing that galloper to snatch an unlikely win. The four-year-old son of 1996 Karrakatta Plate winner Umah had been flagged as a black-booker at each of his previous two Albany outings when placed behind Ten Grand Walking (26/03) and Bettsie (5/04), and deserved to break through today. SALVAGED was backed from $3.60 into $2.10 favourite on-course and was given every chance by Glenn Smith, but was beaten fair and square by the winner. PURE SOUL put in the best performance of his career to date to finish third, aided by a charmed run in transit, with the fourth-placed PICKJAM performing below expectations when only whacking away in the straight after assuming the pace-making duties. Outsider KEBAB endured a torrid run in transit and may be able to improve sharply at big odds next start.
AIN’T NO MORE looked to have the race well and truly parcelled up when sweeping to the lead with 200 metres to go, but the inexperienced four-year-old did not know what to do with himself with no more horses to chase, wanting to lay in on top of SALVAGED and putting in some short strides over the final stages, falling in by a short half-head. Connections, jockey and punters alike breathed a sigh of relief when AIN’T NO MORE’s was eventually announced as the winner.
AIN’T NO MORE: Pretty raw four-year-old but has shown some really good signs at his past three outings. Certainly a horse worth following in this region.
SALVAGED: Beautifully bred former Darley-owned four-year-old who looks set to break through sooner rather than later.
RACE 2 ACME DRYCLEANERS MAIDEN 1:54 PM (1235M)
Steve Wolfe unearthed another handy customer in the form of sparingly-raced five-year-old COWS WITH GUNS, who was having his first start for the region’s leading stable after previously being prepared by Lark Hill-based Sharon Taylor. COWS WITH GUNS was coming off an okay trial performance at Lark Hill 7/04 and met with smart support when firming on-course from $21 into $6, and his supporters never broke a sweat as he was able to control the race from outside the leader, before dashing clear over the final 100 metres to record a 2-1/2 length win. COWS WITH GUNS, ridden by stable jockey Shaun McGruddy, was actually doing his best work on the finish line when lengthening stride impressively late. Wide barrier draws proved costly for the second and third placegetters ACQUITTED and JUJOHN, with the pair drifting well back in the early stages and running on well in the straight. Both gallopers, who were vying for pre-post favouritism, would have finished closer with better barriers. POTENT SECRET led them up and ran a cheeky race before fading over the final 100 metres to finish fourth, while TIMED MISS (fifth), MOLLY KISSES (sixth), SULTAN PIPPA (seventh) were all kept safe in betting but performed below expectations after having every chance in running.
Some smart money came for COWS WITH GUNS, whose opening quote of $21 was well over the odds considering the Wolfe-McGruddy combination, and the fact the horse has been placed at Pinjarra on rain-affected going in the past. Firming significantly in both fixed odds and tote betting, COWS WITH GUNS was always in control of the race and won as he pleased.
Apprentice Kate Fitzgerald was lucky to escape serious injury when taking a nasty tumble from ZOE’S PRIDE shortly after the start, unfortunately costing her the winning ride aboard GARCIA in Race 4. And a big shout out has to go to Clerk Of The Course Jodie Hill (pictured) who managed to corral a runaway ZOE’S PRIDE and prevent a potentially dangerous situation. Well done Jodie. (Picture courtesy of Atoz Visual Photography)
COWS WITH GUNS: Pretty decent maiden win and should rate highly in this region next start.
ACQUITTED: Covered plenty of ground in running and was the widest runner entering the straight. Ready to win.
RACE 3 AMAZING ALBANY HANDICAP 2:34 PM (1235M)
It was back-to-back wins for the Steve Wolfe stable with fantastic money-spinner I SEE LUCK bursting the bubble of local star RUN LIAM RUN in a driving finish. Again ridden by Shaun McGruddy, I SEE LUCK was able to slide up and travel outside the leader (STORM MAID) mid-race, before kicking at the top of the straight and clinging on late to hold out the surging RUN LIAM RUN by a short head. Odds-on favourite RUN LIAM RUN’s outside barrier draw meant he settled one position further back than connections would have hoped, and as a result jockey Takahide Ikenushi was forced to commence his three-wide forward move from the 700 metres. He looked set to record a fifth straight win when looming large swinging for home, but he hit a rough patch and lost momentum at the top of the straight, before coming again on the line to just miss out. Honest mare STORM MAID continued her good form, leading them up and being right in the firing line before fading slightly late to finish third, while CANNA LILY (fourth) tried hard returning from a setback but was not quite at her best. GALILETTO (fifth) was a better effort, while GUEST WING (seventh) has caught the eye when getting back and running on well at both starts this campaign.
Tough six-year-old I SEE LUCK posted his second win of the Great Southern season and the seventh of his 40-start career. Connections have pocketed almost $150,000 in stakes, not a bad return for a $1000 yearling purchase.
RUN LIAM RUN: The more times you watch the reply the more this horse should have won. Obviously still has a lot to learn but will be the one to beat in whatever race he contests in this region next start.
GUEST WING: 2011 Perth Cup winner who has come back from a spell flying. Don’t be surprised to see him bob up at odds some time soon.
RACE 4 MCB CONSTRUCTIONS HANDICAP 3:14 PM (1235M)
The Garry Delane-trained GARCIA relished the return to Great Southern racing with a dominant win at his third start since arriving in Western Australia. The regally-bred four-year-old was well positioned throughout by apprentice Clint Johnston-Porter and was simply eased off the rail at the top of the straight, letting down powerfully to record a 1-3/4 lengths win. Consistent mare BIG BOTH WAYS was forced to cover a little extra ground swinging for home but was strong late in finishing second. Star local filly BINDAREE LADY was under pressure when tested with the whip on the turn but she showed just how much courage she possesses, digging deep into her reserves to finish third, while HUSSTOBEGOLD was ridden aggressively in the early and middle stages, and was left vulnerable late and finished fourth. LIQUID LEGENDS (fifth) and STATES SECRET (seventh) both made up plenty of ground in the straight, while the disappointment of the race was FATHOMS OF GOLD, who weakened from fifth at the top of the straight to finish last.
Apprentice Clint Johnston-Porter is only in his first season of riding but he learned the value of being in the right place at the right time, when making the most of a pick-up ride aboard GARCIA. Fellow apprentice Kate Fitzgerald was deemed unfit to fulfil her riding engagements after her fall in Race 2 and Johnston-Porter was the late replacement, producing a faultless ride to get the job done.
GARCIA: Looks to have a bright future in the West and he’s a horse worth following.
LIQUID LEGENDS: Good return to racing and did not trial beforehand. Look out for him when he steps out second up.
RACE 5 A1 SANDBLASTING HANDICAP 3:53 PM (1625M)
The Brendon Fitzgerald-trained PURIST broke through for his maiden win at Albany 26/02 before appearing a bit flat at his follow-up Pinjarra 19/03 run. But he bounced back to form with a smart all-the-way victory here, appreciating the step up in distance coming off a 28-day break. Apprentice Kate Witten was able to send PURIST forward from his outside barrier and work across the face off the field to lead, before getting away with some cheap sectionals mid-race. Witten allowed PURIST to accelerate on the turn and the result was never in doubt, with the son of Magnus posting a comfortable 1-1/2 lengths win. FORCE ELEMENT hasn’t fired a shot at his past two outings but turned in a blinder here when coming from well back to finish second, racing entirely against the pattern of the race. The Dixie Solly-trained four-year-old is a bit of a tease. BETTSIE was among the main contenders pre-race, but was forced to race against her usual pattern and punch the breeze outside the leader before finishing third. She appears to prefer being ridden on the patient side, while the well-supported SOFTEIS had every conceivable chance in running but could only finish an even fourth. HARP INN (fifth) was doing his best work late after losing touch and being placed under pressure when the tempo increased at the 600 metres, while $3.40 favourite MISS CHILLY FILLY had no excuses when finishing sixth. SANGAREE (seventh) was caught off the track throughout and wasn’t a bad run under the circumstances.
Under-rated apprentice Kate Witten showed up a few of her counterparts with a clever front-running ride aboard PURIST. Witten crossed without any real pressure and was able to dictate terms out in the lead, before simply sliding home over the final 600 metres of the race. Nothing more than a track gallop really.
PURIST: Races well at Albany and would rate highly at this venue next time out.
BETTSIE: Was exposed when ridden on-pace but can win again with a smother next start.
RACE 6 COATES HIRE HANDICAP 4:28 PM (1862M)
Capel-based trainer Brendon Fitzgerald continued his dream season in the Great Southern, posting a race-to-race double with BLACK NEMESIS easily disposing of his rivals by 1-1/4 lengths, after a perfect ride from Jason Whiting. Desperately unlucky when never out of trouble last start at Albany 5/04, BLACK NEMESIS enjoyed a sweet run behind the leader throughout, and didn’t have to go around one horse with a rails run opening up at the top of the straight. Nine-year-old ROCK PRINCE added some value to the multiples when following the winner throughout, sneaking up along the inside for a solid second placing. $2.50 favourite ANCIENT SPELL was well-positioned throughout but appeared a bit flat in the straight, never really accelerating and finishing an even third. JETSON EXPRESS did a good job to finish fourth after being forced very wide swinging for home at his first run in 40 days, while the disappointment of the race was Golden Bracelet winner ELITE FLIGHT (seventh) who performed below expectations after having a reasonable run in transit.
Brendon Fitzgerald has been a revelation this season with his winning double today taking his Great Southern record in season 2014/15 to seven winners and two placings from only 14 starters.
JETSON EXPRESS: Has proven costly to follow this campaign but we really liked his run and he is more than capable on his day. Follow.
RACE 7 GWN7 NEWS HANDICAP 5:05 PM (1235M)
It was a memorable day for recent harness racing convert Matthew Scott with HEEZA TORIO notching up his first winner as a thoroughbred trainer. HEEZA TORIO, who began his career with Justin Warwick before a campaign with Phil Humann, was well weighted with only 52kg thanks to apprentice Jordan Turner’s claim with the teenager able to have the son of Oratorio well positioned in transit after jumping from barrier 3. HEEZA TORIO got all the breaks in running and was able to cash in, pinching a winning break and holding off the strong finish of ELSA’S GIRL. Trained by another harness convert in Paige Kenney, ELSA’S GIRL was perhaps a shade unlucky when getting well back from her wide barrier and not being able to get clear running at a vital stage in the straight. The third-placed TOTAL REJECT turned in an encouraging return to racing when competing well for third, giving the first two placegetters 6kg and 3kg respectively, while GIBRALTAR ROCK was just about the run of the race, scouting three-wide throughout and boxing on to finish fourth beaten only 2-1/2 lengths. SECRET ENDEMIC was the best of the rest finishing fifth after leading to the 150-metre mark.
Licensed harness racing trainer and driver Matthew Scott is the latest in a long line of trainers (Fred Kersely, Grant Williams, Justin Warwick to name a few) to make a switch to thoroughbred racing, and he didn’t have to wait long to claim his first winner, leading in HEEZA TORIO at his fourth start since joining Scott’s Lark Hill stable.
TOTAL REJECT: Having first run in 151 days and will strip fitter next time out.
Training doubles were posted by Steve Wolfe and Brendon Fitzgerald, but we’re going to give the day’s Honours to newly licensed Matthew Scott, who prepared his first winner with HEEZA TORIO in Race 7.
Senior riders Shaun McGruddy and Jason Whiting both booted home doubles, with the ride of the day going to under-utilised apprentice Kate Witten for rating PURIST to perfection when leading throughout to win Race 5.
|Mitchell Pateman (a)
|Casey Hunter (a)
and Albany Racing Club.