Four winners over the weekend sent Shaun Cooper three clear of Courtney Pace at the top of the Victorian picnic jockeys’ premiership.
Cooper rode the last two winners on Saturday’s Hinnomunjie card for Seymour trainer Don Dwyer — a double that also propelled Dwyer to the top of the trainers’ table.
Cooper first piloted Dwyer’s five-year-old Snitzel gelding Something Missing ($1.50 favourite) to a three-quarter-length win in the Doc Paterson Trophy Race (1600m). In a field of just three, Something Missing was tested all the way to the line by Troy Kilgower’s Lochend Emmarose ($2.10), with the other runner more than 10 lengths away.
The race following, the ABA Resources Open Trophy Handicap over the same distance, provided a carbon copy. Cooper led on short-priced favourite Earthling ($1.45) and had to hold off the challenge of a horse on his outside, with the other runner finishing a long last.
The margin would be narrower this time, with Earthling only having a nose to spare over the second-placed Melomane ($2.40).
Earthling’s win kept his perfect Hinnomunjie record intact. He scored at the track back in March of 2018.
Cup joy for jaws
Sale trainer Reg Manning shared the honours with Dwyer, taking out the second on the card as well as the Benambra Hotel Brian Delaney Hinnomunjie Cup over 2000m.
Ridden to glory by Caitlin King, cup winner Jaws of Life ($2.50) is only a recent addition to the Manning team, having raced for the first half of the picnic season for Mornington trainer Kelvin Southey. The seven-year-old Sharkbite gelding has only had three starts for Manning, with Saturday’s cup victory his second win for the trainer.
Steered confidently by King, the pair applied pressure to the leaders well before the turn, setting up a good break on straightening.
Wolf too tough
The last of Shaun Cooper’s four winners (on Sunday at Balnarring) was a familiar one — not so much for Cooper, but for picnic racegoers in general as Howling Wolf ($4.20) defied another hefty impost of 75.5kg to sail to an easy win in the open trophy race over 1200m.
With no claim, Howling Wolf carried 13.5kg more than the bottomweight on Sunday, but was simply too good. The win was Cooper’s first aboard Howling Wolf, who maintained his perfect record at Balnarring, registering his third win from three trips to the venue.
More Morris magic
Maddison Morris’s excellent season continued with a treble on the Balnarring program.
Perhaps the most enjoyable of her three wins would have been on a familiar face, a horse that she has teamed with for six victories this summer in My Clementina ($1.40 favourite). Already a virtual lock for Picnic Horse of the Year honours, My Clementina had not been seen since her win in the Balnarring Cup on Australia Day, the six-week freshen obviously doing her little harm.
Despite a field of only four, Sunday’s Justin Gale Bucks Party Open Trophy over 1600m was a competitive affair, with second-placed Our Cee Bee ($3.60) testing the Cindy Alderson-trained mare all the way to the line.
Morris’s second winner was Alan Keenan-trained three-year-old filly Brightful ($4.80), who knocked off her stablemate and $2.80 favourite Bettina, ridden by Keenan’s son Max.
Order was restored in the Keenan camp in the last, as Max scored on the family’s recent acquisition Pistol ($3.60) in the BetEasy Trophy Race (1600m).
Formerly trained by Shea Eden, the four-year-old Duelled gelding was winless in eight provincial starts before joining Keenan.
The slightly easier opposition and a perfect ride from Maxwell helped ensure he was able to shake off his maiden tag.