Last Saturday night’s Victorian picnic racing awards had a strong Goldfields flavour, with premiership rider Courtney Pace and runner-up Toby Lake both based in Bendigo.
The duo received their awards at the Frankston RSL in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs in front of close to 200 guests.
Between them, the Bendigo pair rode 50 of the 174 winners on the circuit this season. Pace was crowned champion rider with 27 wins while Lake punched home 23 winners in second placing.
It was the third time Pace has won the award.
Lake, a key member of the Shane Fliedner team for the last seven years, will make the move next week to Ciaron Maher’s Caulfield base to further his career as a track rider and stablehand.
“I’ve probably only realised in the last few months that one day I’d like to train horses for a career and Bendigo has given me a solid grounding for that,” Lake said.
“I’ve certainly gained a lot of horsemanship skills under Shane. I can’t thank him enough.
“Joining an elite Melbourne stable should only enhance my capabilities so I’m looking forward to it.”
Lake will still be keeping a close eye on proceedings back home. In fact he’ll be taking over this column in coming weeks while I travel to Royal Ascot.
Brent’s baby swoops
Sutton Grange’s Brent Stanley caused something of an upset in last Saturday’s country Victorian feature, the $27,000 Weir’s IGA Donald 2YO Classic (1200m).
With Bendigo hoop John Keating in the saddle, debutant The August ($12) defeated well backed $2.40 favourite Expedius, trained at Cranbourne by Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young.
Settling in the back half of the field, the I Am Invincible produce a sharp turn of foot to score by three-quarters of length.
The colt cost Cloud 9 Thoroughbreds $150,000 at the 2017 Inglis Premier sale. He is out of stakes-placed Al Maher mare Acouplamas.
He is from the family of “blue hen” Kensington Gardens, dam of five individual stakes winners including top WA sire Blackfriars.
Prince to paddock
Reigning Bendigo Horse of the Year Glenrowan Prince has done his job this season, with Kym Hann tipping his stable star out for a spell.
Hann will be hoping the six-year-old has done enough to take the title for a second successive year.
Glenrowan Prince’s case rests on his March wins in the $70,000 VOBIS Gold Eldorado at Wangaratta and the $80,000 Echuca Cup.
In other news, last season’s Bendigo Middle Distance Horse of the Year, In Fairness, has been retired.
Trained by Shane Fliedner, the Denman gelding won six races including two at Moonee Valley, earning $150,875 in prizemoney.
The six-year-old will be retired to his owners’ Wingrove Park property and tried as a show horse.
As a part-owner, I wish “Denny” all the best for his well earned retirement from the track.
Bendigo trainers headed to the Tatura trials on Monday morning and made an early impression.
While all eyes were on Makybe Diva’s daughter Divanation in heat one, Shaun Dwyer’s unraced Big Brown filly Hollywood Miss trialled smartly to finish second.
Janet Wicks would have been pleased with her galloper My Boy Greg winning his first trial back from a bleeding ban.
The five-year-old beat home the Anne Yates-trained Boris Boy, clocking 51.58 for the 850 metres.