Emerging Cranbourne trainer Matthew Brown has begun what he hopes will be his best season thus far with a bang, winning races with stable favourite Little Bita Spunk and improving mare So White.
So White ($31) led from start to finish at Geelong on Monday in the Bet365 BM58 Handicap (1400m).
Young Cranbourne hoop Ben Thompson rating the So You Think four-year-old perfectly, holding on to beat Radiant Rogue ($7) by a nose, with Hunboshi ($10) an eye-catching third.
Brown bought So White at the 2016 Inglis Premier yearling sale for $52,500, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing, her 17 starts so far yielding two wins and $38,444 in stakes.
Brown explained post-race, “She probably should have won at Bairnsdale (July 29). If she had, she would have been a $5 to $7 chance.
“She can really gallop, but has had a few issues.
“Credit to our vet, Eoin Kelly. It’s big thrill to produce her like that today.”
Brown had kicked off 2018/19 at Sale last week on an emotional note when consistent six-year-old Little Bita Spunk bowed out a winner, taking out the Raglan Pizza BM64 Handicap (1422m).
It was a competitive betting race, and the major combatants were all in the finish, apprentice Chelsea Macfarlane piloting Little Bita Spunk ($3.70) to victory over Moscow Red ($3.40) and Star Major ($3.70).
Little Bita Spunk was around when Brown began his training career in March 2015.
He was bought by Scott Brown (Matthew’s father) at the 2014 VOBIS Gold yearling sales and syndicated.
Little Bita Spunk ran 11th on debut behind bargain buy The Big Dance in the VOBIS Gold Rush at Bendigo in May 2015.
Little Bita Spunk was Brown’s first Victorian winner as a trainer at Cranbourne in October that year, ridden by apprentice Ben Allen.
(Brown had trained his first winner in NSW the previous month.)
Luck played a part in Little Bita Spunk’s next win, after a Traralgon meeting was abandoned just prior to “Spunky” racing.
Brown accepted to run at Moonee Valley a few days later, and Little Bita Spunk became the trainer’s first city winner, with Jessica Payne aboard. Stable star Kiss Me Ketut later made it a Valley double for Brown.
Little Bita Spunk raced 32 times for five wins and 12 placings, accumulating $162,560.
Brown paid tribute to the stable favourite on social media after his gutsy win at Sale.
“Wednesday was such a bittersweet day for myself and everyone closely involved,” he wrote.
“It’s so amazing to see him win another well deserved race, but also so heart breaking to know it was his last outing.
“He’s been an incredible horse to our stable — his guts and determination at every single start just made him the most enjoyable horse to watch.
“His gentle soul and quirky nature just makes him a pleasure to be around. My kids were often about to bring Spunky in from the paddock, and he’s also the first horse they both gravitate to every afternoon.”
Brown, 25, is one of Victoria’s youngest licensed trainers, having ridden for three seasons on the picnic circuit prior to taking up training.
He rode 20 winners from 125 rides.
Brown senior had owned a number of thoroughbreds and the young trainer had always taken a keen interest in racing.
It was through fellow Cranbourne trainer Todd Balfour that Brown started riding trackwork before progressing to become an amateur jockey.
Brown’s biggest win so far was the Group 3 Vamos Stakes in Tasmania last year with Kiss Me Ketut.
His career may only be in its infancy, but with 30 winners in three years and plenty of young stock in the stable, Matthew Brown may be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.
One to follow
Mr Clarify, the New Zealand Group 3 winner, has found form quickly since joining Sale trainer Wayne Walters.
The six-year-old Savabeel gelding covered plenty of ground running a close second in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Cash Out Handicap (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
Mr Clarify is owned by the Smithies family of Monovale Farm (NZ), who own all the horses in the Walters stable (currently 38).
Mr Clarify, previously trained by Matamata trainer Peter McKay, has won five races from 2000 to 2200 metres, including the Group 3 Manawatu Cup (2100m).