Cold showers are now a thing of the past for young Newcastle trainer Benjamin Smith.
Originally from Scone, Smith has only been training for six years but in that short time has experienced both the highs and lows of life as a trainer.
During his toughest period, he couldn’t afford hot water, so he took cold showers during winter, resulting in pneumonia. Now all that has changed. In the space of just a fortnight, Smith has trained two Group 1 winners. The first came on March 24 when In Her Time took out The Galaxy at Randwick, then on Saturday, he brought up his second Group 1 when El Dorado Dreaming won the $1 million Sires Produce Stakes (1400 metres).
After settling three wide near the tail of the field, El Dorado Dreaming came storming down the outside to score by a short half from the favourite Oohood, with Outrageous in third place.
“We weren’t coming here just to make up the numbers — we thought she’d run well but never expected her to win,” said Smith.
“She was meeting some very good horses.”
Later in the day, Smith’s other starter, In Her Time, ran third in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes. The mare appeared unlucky. After being trapped on the fence in last place she charged home and was beaten two lengths by Trapeze Artist.
Port Macquarie trainer Jenny Graham enjoyed the biggest win of her career when Victorem, aided by a gem of a ride by jockey Ben Looker, scored a dominant win in the Country Championship Final (1400 metres) at Randwick last Saturday.
The three-year-old settled nicely in third place on the rails but then struck traffic problems in the straight before gaining an inside run and dashing away.
Looker was delighted with the victory, describing it as his “Melbourne Cup”.
Victorem has now won five of his six starts and more than $600,000 in prizemoney.
Josh shares his thoughts
Metropolitan jockey Josh Parr recently used Twitter to express his concerns over the amount of racing being conducted.
“I do fear we are going down the road of serious overkill by the amount and frequency of races run in this country. Multiple meetings a day and races run every two minutes. Are we de-sensitising ourselves to the great spectacle and experience of a horse race by immediately focusing on the next race?” he tweeted.
It is a question that has been raised before, with many jockeys and trainers expressing the opinion that there should be one race-free day each week. Some responded to Parr’s tweet by claiming a reduction in race meetings would result in lost revenue.
In NSW, betting revenue is already being lost due to small fields, particularly at provincial meetings. For example, last week there were just 46 starters at Wyong on an eight-race program. In one race there were just three starters and there were insufficient starters in any race for each-way betting.
Trainers I have spoken to since then, though, have been unanimous in blaming the benchmark system for small fields rather than too much racing.
Metropolitan trainers filled the first three placings in the feature race at Wellington’s two-day carnival at the weekend — the 1100-metre Wellington Boot for two-year-olds.
Bjorn Baker’s Miss Invincible defeated the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Shinju, with Adagirl (Waterhouse/Bott) third.
The previous race, the Wellington Town Plate (1100 metres) was won by Skylimit, trained by Allan Denham and ridden by Jeff Penza. Penza brought up a winning treble when he won the last race on the card, the 1700 metres Wellington Cup, on the Aaron Clarke-trained galloper Failed Approach.
American stars in Gundagai
Sunday’s 1800-metre Gundagai Cup was won by the six-year-old mare American Time, prepared by Gratz Vella and ridden by Shaun Gymer. The winner finished strongly to defeat the favourite Hiroken.
American Time is now assured of a start in the Wagga Gold Cup.
Loy’s long ban
Canberra jockey Brodie Loy has been disqualified by stewards for 12 months, and suspended for a further nine months, after having been found guilty of providing a urine sample containing banned substances and of giving false evidence to stewards.
The charges were laid following the Goulburn race meeting on January 29. The disqualification was backdated to February 9.