With a Listed placing already to her credit, it was no surprise that punters backed La Scopa into odds-on favouritism in the Class 3 TAB Highway Handicap at Randwick (Kensington) last Saturday.
Jockey Brenton Avdulla didn’t bustle the mare early, content to let her settle midfield. On entering the straight he took her to the centre of the track to make her run and she won easily under hands-and-heels riding.
“It takes her a little while to wind up but then she really knuckles down,” explained stable representative Keira Dunn, the wife of winning trainer, Matthew.
The four-year-old will now be set for the 1400 metres Country Championship Qualifier to be run at Grafton on March 17. The first and second placegetters from that qualifier will automatically earn a spot in the $500,000 Country Championship Final to be run over 1400 metres at Randwick on April 6.
“1400 metres at Randwick would be perfect for her,” Keira Dunn said.
It was a good Saturday afternoon for the Murwillumbah-based Dunn as they also won the 1200 metres Three-Year-Old Handicap at the Gold Coast, with favourite Snow Valley scoring under Robbie Fradd.
Canberra galloper Mercurial Lad, trained by the partnership of Barbara Joseph and her sons Paul and Matt Jones, scored a tough all-the-way win in the 1550-metre benchmark 78 race on the Kensington track last Saturday.
Ridden by in-form apprentice Sam Weatherly, the five-year-old was forced to do some work early in order to get across and lead after drawing the outside barrier.
It was an excellent front-running ride which saw Mercurial Lad bring up win number seven from 29 starts.
Whopping Wyong win
At Wyong last Saturday the Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Bott-trained Rapido Chaparro, ridden by Travis Wolfgram, annihilated his rivals, winning by six-and-a-half lengths over 1600 metres.
The four-year-old has now won three of his five starts. Saturday’s victory gave Wolfgram the first leg of a winning treble while at the same time bringing up a winning double for the Waterhouse/Bott partnership after Sazavee had led throughout in a 1600-metre maiden race.
Three for Blaike
The only NSW country meeting last Saturday was at Albury, where jockey Blaike McDougall took riding honours with a winning treble.
Vincent Nolen did best of the trainers with a double.
Short-priced favourite Footmark, trained by Jodie Bohr and ridden by Simon Miller, won the main race, the 1600 metres Summer Handicap. The lightly-raced seven-year-old has now won four of 15 starts with Bohr now hopeful that he will develop into a country cups horse.
Sugar and Love shine
On Sunday, the two main races at Gilgandra were the 1100-metre Town Plate and the 1600-metre Gilgandra Cup. The Town Plate was won by the Brett Thompson-trained Sugar Dance, ridden by Billy Cray, while the Cup was taken by the Cheryl Crockett-trained mare Mackellar’s Love.
The five-year-old scored by two-and-a-half lengths from Cowboys Karma, with Living Choice third. Cheryl Crockett was married to the legendary horse-breaker and trainer Max Crockett, who passed away just a few weeks ago, so it was a very popular win.
Earlier in the day apprentice Chelsea Ings rode her second winner since returning to race-riding following a six-month layoff with a badly broken ankle.
Ings rode Sugar Lane to victory in the 1280-metre benchmark 66 race for trainer Collen Thurston. Ings won on the same horse at the same track on New Year’s day.
Coming up ...
Murrumbidgee today runs a benchmark 58 over 1800 metres as part of its annual Stayers Series. There’ll also be a benchmark 66 over the same distance on January 22 and a benchmark 58 over 2000 metres to on Australia Day.
Tomorrow, Queanbeyan will hold its annual Publican’s Purse Raceday with the main race The Statesman Hotel Publican’s Purse. This is a race that was first run in 1860.
On Sunday the action will be at Coffs Harbour. The club is conducting its 13th annual Pink Silks race meeting.
The Pink Silk Trust provides assistance to local women’s health organisations and national research foundations. Since its inception the fund has raised more than $750,000.