Four-year-old mare Duecourse notched a maiden victory and gave veteran Warrnambool trainer Bill Wilde his first win since July 2014 when she scored impressively at her home track last Sunday.
Wilde, who trained successfully in partnership with his son Symon before handing in his licence, said he was delighted to lead in a winner.
“It’s been a while between drinks,” Wilde said. “Duecourse is only my fourth runner since I got my licence back and she’s the only one that I’ve got in work.
“Symon took over the stable and I stood aside for a few years. I gave $10,000 for Duecourse at the 2015 Sydney Classic yearling sale. She’s taken time to mature but there’s plenty of upside to her,” he added.
Tough jockey Holly McKechnie will always carry the scars from the first time she rode at Penshurst two weeks ago.
She fractured her left foot in a freak accident on the way to the barriers at the Boxing Day meeting.
McKechnie had surgery this week and may be out of the saddle for up to three months.
“I broke four small bones in the arch of my left foot,” the 34-year-old hoop said.
“The medical terminology is a lisfarnc fracture. The injury is a huge disappointment because I had been riding really well.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever ridden at Penshurst but the accident was no one’s fault ... just one of those things that can happen in racing.”
McKechnie said she has a lot of rehab work ahead of her.
“The best case scenario is I’ll be back riding in two months but it could be three months,” she said.
The popular hoop is no stranger to hospitals, having broken both arms twice, and both ankles. She has also suffered broken ribs and a broken collarbone.
Former champion jockey Michael Clarke rates watching his son Michael Poy win the Koroit Cup last Sunday one of his biggest thrills in racing.
Clarke, who won more than 50 Group 1 races including a Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate, was trackside to see Poy score aboard Siga La Vaca.
“It was just wonderful for Janelle (partner) and I to be there to see Michael win the cup,” Clarke said.
“Janelle and I both have health issues so just watching Michael ride is a great tonic for us and when it’s a country cup it’s even more special. We’ve found going around watching Michael ride at various meetings across Victoria gives us the chance to catch up with so many old friends.”
Clarke won the 1986 Melbourne Cup on Al Talaq and Better Loosen Up was successful for him in the 1990 Cox Plate.
Hard work pays
Warrnambool-based jockey Luke Williams put a run of outs behind him when he guided the Jenny Smith-trained Just Before Dark to victory at Warrnambool last Sunday.
Williams spent months outs of the saddle after sustaining ankle and hand injuries following a trackwork mishap.
“It’s great to be back as a winner,” he said. “I’ve been putting in the hard yards.”
Just Before Dark has won three of his 24 starts.
Vella regains interest
Steven Vella made a winning return to riding aboard Caribbean Pearl in a maiden plate at Warrnambool last Sunday.
It was Vella’s first ride back in more than nine months after becoming disillusioned.
“I gave it away because I had lost interest,” Vella said.
“My wife Kylie, who trains a few, had a really nice horse in work and he snapped his leg. I reckon he was the best horse we’ve ever had.
“I’m back on track again now,” he added.
Bookies in front
Bookmakers got the better of punters over the holiday period. From 30 races run in the Western District only seven favourites were successful.
Only one “got up” at the pre-Christmas meeting at Colac, while two were triumphant at Penshurst on Boxing Day. Two more favourites found the winning stall at Woodford while three won at the Koroit meeting at Warrnambool last Sunday. The longest priced winner from the four meetings was Knucklemanna — a $31 chance at Colac.