RACE 1 GM TAXATION & ACCOUNTING MAIDEN 1:20 PM (1636M)
Whiz kid apprentice Lucy Warwick has wasted no time in piling on the winners since returning from her riding stint in Victoria and her hot streak continued here, piloting the well-supported MISS GELANA ($6 into $3.90) to the easiest of victories for her trainer/father Justin. MISS GELANA enjoyed a nice run three-deep with cover in transit and was slipped an inch of rein at the top of the straight, swooping on her rivals and striding clear to win by 2-1/2 lengths. Second-placed EMMA NOVEMBER was given every chance in running by Lucas Camilleri and competed well but was no match for the winner, while ALABAMA LADY (third) and AND SO AM I (fourth) raced head-and-head throughout with ALABAMA LADY narrowly filling the minor placing. Pre-race favourite AND SO AM I ($2.30) disappointed after leading, as did his well-fancied stablemate TOPPED UP GIRL ($5) who raced three-wide without cover throughout and faded out of contention in the straight.
The Warwick family has a long and distinguished history of success in harness racing, however, they have well and truly transitioned into thoroughbred racing with trainer Justin and apprentice daughter Lucy currently at the peak of their powers. Justin Warwick took over the training of MISS GELANA from Daniel Pearce and after two trials was able to get her ready to win first-up the mile with a leg in the air. Fantastic training effort.
While Lucy Warwick is simply a revelation among WA jockey ranks using her balance, kind hands and ability to judge pace to get horses to produce their best for her. And the scary thing is she’s only going to get better.
MISS GELANA: Treated her rivals with contempt and looks a handy stayer in the making.
RACE 2 CAMERON CARAVANS/COROMAL MAIDEN 2:00 PM (1245M)
Albany Racing Club President Mark Nelson does a great job with his small team of horses and he looks set to have plenty of fun with Danasinga three-year-old TEN GRAND WALKING, who led them up, was challenged in the straight but showed some good qualities to score a strong 3/4-length win. TEN GRAND WALKING also raced a lot more tractably here, after costing himself a win at Albany 7/03 last start when hanging badly in running. Third emergency AIN’T NO MORE was sent out an $81 chance, but turned in a top effort when coming from seventh on the turn along the cutaway rail to finish second. SULTAN PIPPA, who drifted alarmingly from $6.50 to $15 on-course, raced outside the leader/winner from the 800m and loomed as a winning chance in the straight, but was unable to sustain the effort and finished third. REUBEN’S GIRL enjoyed a perfect run behind the leader/winner in transit and boxed on in the straight to finish fourth, while BETTSIE was the run of the race when coming from last at the 600m for a fast-finishing fifth. Well-fancied pair MYTHICAL TRUST ($2.90) and GWALIANA ($9) raced in the three-wide line throughout and never threatened.
Punters had their fingers burnt by MYTHICAL TRUST ($1.90) when he was beaten into sixth-place first-up at Geraldton 11/03, but that didn’t stop them backing the Justin Warwick-trained four-year-old from $5 into $2.90 here. They will no doubt be a bit more cautious next start as the Flying Pegasus gelding again failed to produce the goods, finishing seventh beaten 3-3/4 lengths.
TEN GRAND WALKING: Looks a horse with plenty of scope. One to follow.
BETTSIE: Screaming out for more ground and should win with a decent barrier draw next start.
RACE 3 ALBANY CITY MOTORS HANDICAP 2:40 PM (2100M)
Esperance-based comeback stayer IMPERIAL COMMAND caused a major upset here when being allowed to run his own race out in front and lead by as much as 12 lengths in the back straight. The challengers loomed in the straight but IMPERIAL COMMAND proved to be the superior stayer, hitting the finish line as hard as any of his rivals to win by a length. Second-placed REGIMENTAL PRIDE emerged as a winning chance half-way up the straight but couldn’t overhaul his tough-as-nails rivals, but it was still a decent effort at his first attempt racing beyond the mile. THE DANEHILL ROSE led the chasers when second throughout and whacked away in the straight to nose out KING POINT for third, with both gallopers appearing one-paced in the straight. The Adam Durrant-trained $2.30 favourite GENERIS HEART (sixth) was awkwardly positioned when locked away at the back of the field in running, but still lacked any zip when gaining some galloping room in the straight. ELL SOUTHEE was withdrawn behind the barriers after blood was found in one nostril, due to a knock to the head in a stable mishap on the morning of the race.
IMPERIAL COMMAND looked home and hosed when in front half-way up the straight in the 2013 Kalgoorlie Cup, but appeared to peak on his run and had to settle for third behind Classique Ivory. A vets examination later revealed the Helen Harding-trained galloper had strained both near and off fore flexor tendons in running, an IMPERIAL COMMAND did not race for 490 days.
The son of Commands had failed to recapture any of his old form in five runs into his comeback racing preparation, but he improved remarkably here when allowed to free-wheel in front, his preferred racing pattern.
The win was also a race-to-race double for Kyra Yuill and took her to 13 wins for the Great Southern racing season, two behind jockeys’ premiership front-runner Shaun McGruddy.
None from this race.
RACE 4 MCB CONSTRUCTIONS HANDICAP 3:17 PM (1245M)
The scratching of Corporate Larrikin threw this race wide open and it proved to be a super-competitive handicap, with all eight runners finishing within three lengths of each other, with only a 3/4-length separating the first five home. But it was bonny local mare CANNA LILY who had her head stretched out on the line, scoring at her first attempt in Ratings 70-plus company. The Neil Lee-trained CANNA LILY was dropping in weight and distance after her brave third in the Golden Bracelet at Albany 7/03, but she showed her versatility and will to win to defeat STORM MAID by a head, and post her third win in the Great Southern from nine starts this season. Second-placed STORM MAID was beaten at Pingrup only five days earlier but almost caused a major upset here, darting through between horses in the straight after enjoying the run of the race in transit. SONNY BISCAY ran his usual honest race but did himself no favours when laying out in the straight, which also gifted the winner clear running at the top of the straight. Esperance visitor CUT SNAKE was the run of the race, charging home along the cutaway rail in the straight to finish fourth, and would have won if not for losing momentum when held up for a run swinging for home. TALK OF ANGELS could count herself a little unlucky when still in front 75m from the line but having to settle for fifth, with apprentice Clint Johnston-Porter interestingly choosing to drop his hands a few strides from the line. 2011 Perth Cup winner GUEST WING (sixth) ran a bottler first-up since last August, relishing only 51kg on his back to charge home from a distant last on the turn.
Trainer Neil Lee and jockey Natasha Faithfull have had Great Southern seasons to remember, with Lee preparing six winners and 11 placegetters from only 29 starts, and Faithfull booting home 12 winners and 17 placings from 80 rides.
Faithfull, who enjoyed success as an apprentice for the Steve Wolfe stable, has taken a significant leap forward since becoming fully fledged at the start of 2015 and is riding with tremendous confidence. She has ridden 50 winners across WA in season 2014/15, with only William Pike and Lucy Warwick having ridden more.
CUT SNAKE: Was slow away and lacked momentum swinging for home. Huge effort to kick along the cutaway rail and get within a 3/4-length of the winner. Hard to ignore this performance.
RACE 5 ALBANY CUP EASTER SUNDAY – FASHIONS REWARDED HCP 3:57 PM (1135M)
There was drama shortly after the start when $2.80 second favourite COCO CASH was retired from the race and there was drama in the straight with emerging star RUN LIAM RUN almost throwing the race away, laying in significantly for new rider Takahide Ikenushi. But the Lyn Kiddle-trained four-year-old dug deep into his reserves to straighten up just enough late and nose out Esperance visitor FOXY COMMANDER, who went within a whisker of ending RUN LIAM RUN’s winning streak with Lucy Warwick riding the perfect race out in front. Tough as nails mare BINDAREE LADY (third) is the pin-up girl of the Great Southern racing scene and tracked RUN LIAM RUN throughout and chased hard in the straight, but fell a half-length short on the line. SECURE THE SKY is as honest as the day is long and competed well for fourth after racing outside the leader throughout, and HANDFUL OF DUST (fifth) probably would have finished a bit closer had she not been hampered by a wayward RUN LIAM RUN in the straight.
RUN LIAM RUN’s victory is his fourth for the Great Southern season and places him level with BINDAREE LADY at the top of the Horse of the Season leader board. It has been a tight contest all season with another six horses on three wins apiece.
The retirement of COCO CASH shortly after the start robbed the race of significant interest with Adam Durrant-trained galloper was backed to beat RUN LIAM RUN. It was the icing on a not so tasty cake for the state’s leading trainer, with Durrant having a rare ‘day to forget’. COCO CASH’s retirement was due to the saddle shifting backwards significantly on jumping, placing jockey Peter Hall in extreme difficulty.
RUN LIAM RUN: That was his first start in 77 days and should improve considerably, especially with no trial hit-out beforehand. Is a 69-rater now so should be just about ready to strut his stuff in the metro area and will take some beating in whatever he contests.
BINDAREE LADY: Brave as they come and has a fantastic record at her home track. Bounced back to form and looks ready to win again in this region.
RACE 6 GLASS SUPPLIERS HANDICAP 4:36 PM (1245M)
Trainer John Askevold pulled off a remarkable form turnaround with his terrific money-spinner AMERICAN CAESAR ($21), who blew most quaddie players out of the water with an upset win, after having finished last at Albany 7/03 last start. Jockey Takahide Ikenushi chanced his arm when trapped wide in the early stages, deciding to push forward rather than go back in the field, and it proved to be the winning move as he was able to enjoy an uninterrupted forward movement in the three-wide line and stride clear in the straight, with AMERICAN CAESAR posting the fifth win of his career. BIG BOTH WAYS was sent out a $3.70 favourite and could count herself a little unlucky when getting shuffled back along the rail in running, when Natasha Faithfull elected to hand up the lead in the early stages. She did a big job to get going in the straight and run the winner to a 3/4-length margin. ACCRUAL was the run of the race, with the new arrival in the Great Southern steaming home from second last at the top of the straight for third. SANGAREE did well to race on pace and finish fourth at his first run in 130 days and CHOP IT OUT (fifth) ran on well in the straight and settling near the rear and racing three and four wide throughout. KNIGHT RUNNER (seventh) was having his first start in 400 days and will no doubt be better for the run.
Most form students had put a line through AMERICAN CAESAR after his last start performance at Albany 7/03 and wide barrier, with stablemate and last-start winner LADY OF SUBSTANCE being the more fancied of the Askevold runners. But the wily horseman was able to extract a peak performance from AMERICAN CAESAR, who is better than his pre-race rating of 59 suggests.
It also says a lot about Takahide Ikenushi, who did not panic despite racing three-wide without cover, maintaining balance and rhythm aboard AMERICAN CAESAR and basically keeping the six-year-old out of strife. Three wide with forward flow is a hell of a lot better than being help up behind heels, that’s for sure, especially when the pace is slow. Momentum is the key to winning races.
ACCRUAL: Huge run at his first start in the region. Trainer Paul Hunter should have a lot of fun with this fellow.
KNIGHT RUNNER: Unable to get moving into the race on the turn and will strip fitter following the run. Has ability and is a horse to follow.
RACE 7 DUE SOUTH – CELLARBRATIONS HANDICAP 5:12 PM (1636M)
Leading local trainer Steve Wolfe saddled up four runners in the ‘lucky last’ and had the top three chances in betting, with some even predicting the stable would train the quartet. And they came pretty damn close, filling four of the first five placings. As it turned out the well-supported ($7.50 into $4.60) bounced back to winning form (his first in 537 days) courtesy of a flawless Shaun McGruddy ride, outstaying his rivals late to draw clear and score a convincing 1-3/4 length win. Well-travelled Bunbury mare MUSARK is tough as nails and showed her competitiveness to finish second after punching the breeze outside the leader in running, in what was her fourth start in 26 days. Outside the winner, stablemate HARP INN was the run of the race, coming from around six lengths from the leader at the 600m to finish third beaten only two lengths. The Wolfe pair TEE PEE CAT and ELITE FLIGHT raced alongside each other throughout and both lacked a bit of their usual zip, working home evenly to finish fourth and fifth respectively. STAR OF CASSY’s disappointing season continued when finishing second last despite being kept safe in betting ($7 into $6).
ANCIENT SPELL’s victory cemented Shaun McGruddy’s lead at the top of the jockeys’ premiership and extended Steve Wolfe’s lead in the trainers’ premiership. McGruddy (15 wins) leads Mitchell Pateman and Kyra Yuill by two, while Wolfe leads nearest rival Paul Hunter 20 wins to 13.
ANCIENT SPELL: That was a really convincing win and with a lowly rating of 61, Steve Wolfe should have some fun times going forward with this seven-year-old.
HARP INN: Has shown promise in the past and this run was good enough to suggest he’s worth following with confidence next start.
There were several contenders but honours for this meeting have to go to Esperance-based Helen Harding, who was able to patch up IMPERIAL COMMAND and get him back into the winner’s circle, after straining both front tendons in September 2013 and having over 17 months on the sidelines. A tremendous achievement. Special mentions to Justin Warwick, Neil Lee and John Askevold who all would have been deserving winners on the day.
Kyra Yuill and Takahide Ikenushi both punched home winning doubles. But it was Yuill’s courageous front-running performance aboard IMPERIAL COMMAND that stands out as the best ride on the day.
|Mitchell Pateman (a)||13|
|Casey Hunter (a)||11|