There was bad and good news for Gippsland racing last Sunday — on the debit side, the Latrobe Valley Racing Club’s Traralgon Cup meeting was transferred to the Pakenham synthetic track due to heavy rain, but on the plus side the main race went to a district stalwart.
The $50,000 Traralgon Cup (1900m) became the $50,000 Max Mitchell Life Membership Handicap (1600m) and was won by popular Foster trainer Ken Fythe and his consistent six-year-old mare Stormy Shore.
Luckless since winning at Moe in September, the daughter of Bramshaw finally got the breaks and she delivered, her happy connections pocketing the winner’s cheque of $27,500 and a VOBIS Gold 4YO-plus Owners Bonus of $15,000.
Patiently ridden by apprentice Beau Mertens at the rear of the field, Stormy Shore ($4) accelerated quickly when a gap appeared, putting away placegetters Eschiele ($6) and Time For Dancing ($7.50).
Fythe only ever keeps a small team, but has a happy knack of finding a horse capable of winning races.
Fyfe bred the latest of those, Stormy Shore, from a more-than-handy mare he trained, Swiss Storm, who won seven races including three in town.
Stormy Shore is raced by Fythe, wife Sue, Jamie Maurilli-Pullin and Mick O’Connell. She has amassed $156,845 with six wins and four placings from 31 starts.
These days, with the Stony Creek Racing Club closed for training, Fythe works his small team on the beach at Waratah Bay, along the local rail trail or at a local pony club. Stormy Shore only goes to the track on race day or for trials.
The best horse Fythe has trained is the popular dual listed winner Rockpecker, a $1250 purchase who won nine races including seven in town.
The two-time Gippsland horse of the year placed at Group 3 level and earned $645,855.
Ripple’s a ripper
Most impressive winner at Sale last Friday was the locally trained Ripplebrook ($2.25 favourite), who treated his rivals with contempt in the Farewell Wayne Pollock BM58 Handicap (1400m).
The Sharyn Trolove-trained three-year-old led all the way with apprentice Thomas Stockdale riding confidently and had six lengths to spare on the line from Lucente ($26) and Joe’s Pride ($11).
Ripplebrook, a $63,000 buy as a ready-to-run two-year-old, has now raced four times for two wins and two seconds, accumulating stakes of $33,050.
Trolove, who has her team in good form (four recent winners), was delighted with her stable star and his continued improvement,
“I hoped he would win like that,” she said.”You hope they can graduate from a maiden, but the stats are usually against them.
“He’s had a great preparation. His improvement from when he came into work has been significant.
“He’ll now head for a break — he’s done more than enough this preparation.”
Ripplebrook’s owner is Sale Turf Club life memeber Peter Gray, who retired from training in 2007, having trained a couple of racehorses as a constant hobby for decades while running a dairy farm at Newry (25 minutes from Sale).
Trolove for many years was the track rider and assistant trainer for the Gray stable.
Gray enjoyed plenty of success in the training caper, his last city winner being Master Nicholas (a winner of nine races) in September 1997, with a young Nash Rawiller in the saddle.
Wayne out on a winner
Retiring Sale Turf Club chief executive Wayne Pollock’s final meeting at the helm went off without a hitch, despite a dire weather forecast.
A decision by Racing Victoria to bring all races forward an hour was vindicated, with a lengthy shower drenching the course 45 minutes after the last race, as Pollock enjoyed a well earned drink and reflected on a lifetime in racing management.
Pollock retired after 14 years in the job, having taken over from Helen Cantwell, who occupied the position for a remarkable 36 years.
Interestingly the race named in Cantwell’s honour, the Farewell Helen Cantwell Class 2 Handicap (1200m), run at Sale on July 13, 2003, was won by Kildonan Road, trained by Peter Gray’s son Brian.
The Sale Turf Club has appointed former committeeman Brad Evans as its new chief executive.
Evans, currently a school principal in Sale, brings to the role a lifelong passion for racing and extensive management experience. He is well known and respected in local sporting and community circles.