Whittlesea trainer Peter Morgan produced a smart debutante in Shoko at Wangaratta Turf Club’s 10-race program last Saturday.
Sent out a $2.15 favourite on the strength of her recent trial form, the beautifully bred five-year-old daughter of Sebring and God Love It handled the heavy 9 surface with aplomb, blitzing the field in the $23,000 Mason Park Maiden Plate (1400m).
The mare defeated Never Sue ($7) by 2¼ lengths with Rerelease ($9.50) a further three lengths away third.
She gave the in-form Linda Meech the second leg of a riding double.
Morgan said the reason the mare was late starting her racing career was that she had earlier sustained a hairline fracture between the hock and stifle.
“She could be a good horse. She has so much ability.
“We’ll push on with her and she’ll improve on that run,” he said.
Shoko is a half-sister to group winners Mimi Lebrock and the Darren Weir-trained Heavenly Thought, runner-up in last year’s Queensland Derby. She was a $300,000 purchase by Morgan at the 2015 Magic Millions Gold Coast yearling sale for regular stable clients headed by Bruce and Jill Mathieson and Rick Smith.
The win was a pick-me-up for Morgan, who hasn’t enjoyed the best of health lately.
Hopes so close
Seymour father-son training duo Lee and Shannon Hope had a frustrating day at Wangaratta Turf Club’s mammoth 10-race program last Saturday.
In each of the last three races on the card, the Hopes were beaten into second place.
In the last, the luckless Indiana Wolf ($7) went down by a short half-head to another Seymour trainee in Smash the Gong ($17).
The Barry Goodwin-trained six-year-old Equiano gelding completed a treble for jockey Jake Noonan in taking the Winsec Savings & Loans BM64 Handicap (1170m).
Part-owned by the Goodwins along with Mangalore Park Racing, Smash the Gong now has eight wins and four minor placings from his 25 starts.
The Hopes’ other runners-up were Danvito ($10) and Dashing Declan ($26).
On the mend
The Hopes’ apprentice Tahlia Hope was back in the saddle at Seymour recently after 12 weeks on the sidelines with a broken collarbone suffered in a fall at Wangaratta in May.
Her uncle, Blake Shinn, was down from Sydney last Thursday to assist her at trackwork.
Tahlia envisages she will be race riding in three weeks.
Ultra-consistent Kilmore mare Tiffany’s Lass, coming off a second placing at Flemington last month, found another one better at Moonee Valley last Saturday.
The Danny Laws-trained five-year-old, starting at $6.50, was run down by the Irish import Pioneertown ($8) in the $120,000 Mortimer Petroleum Handicap (2500m).
The Artie Schiller mare, well ridden by Stephen Baster, earned $21,600 for her second placing.
She has now earned $168,500 in prizemoney with three wins and five minor placings from 23 starts.
Kyneton trainer Neil Dyer saddled up a winning double on Darwin Cup Day on Monday.
Dyer scored with Arctic Song ($8) and Pot Black ($5.50).
Arctic Song, an eight-year-old Northern Meteor gelding, scored his fifth win at Fannie Bay in taking out the $30,000 Magic Millions Handicap (1300m).
Ridden by Jarrod Todd, the gelding had a real battle with $3.20 favourite Java, getting up by a half-head with Unbreakable ($4.60) a further 4½ lengths away.
Dyer said there were excuses for Arctic Song in the Palmerston two days earlier.
Part-owned by Dyer, Arctic Song has now won seven races with 15 minor placings from 48 starts.
Pot Black backed up from his win the previous Wednesday, scoring an impressive victory in the $30,000 Designer Kitchens Handicap (1600m).
This is the fourth consecutive year the Bel Esprit gelding, now seven, has scored at the Darwin carnival.
The gelding’s win gave Jarrod Todd the second leg of a riding treble.
“This horse is a little giant-killer. He’s a beauty,” Dyer said after the race.
Also part-owned by Dyer, Pot Black has now won nine races — seven of them in the Top End — with eight placings from his 40 starts.