Balnarring horsewoman Cheryl Weller might not be a household name but she has tasted success as a trainer in three countries and ridden many smart horses in trackwork.
Weller’s most recent winner — her second in Australia — came at Racing.com Park on Tuesday when promising three-year-old filly Blackcurrant took the Polytrack Maiden Plate (1600 metres).
Bought online for $8750 as a tried horse, Blackcurrant ($8) toughed it out for a narrow win over Casino Delight ($3.90) with Able Fun ($4.80) a distant third.
Weller trains a small team (currently two) on the beach at Balnarring while operating a successful pre-training business.
“I’m only small and happy to stay that way,” she said this week. “This filly suits my way of training.”
Born in England to an equestrian family, Weller has adapted her own training philosophy, preferring to lead her horses off a pony.
“I do things quite differently to most — I ride and lead all my horses. I find they stay sounder and happier.
“I might do some evens when the beach is good on Blackcurrant, but she usually just works off the lead mare.”
Blackcurrant will continue to pick away through the grades, with Weller hopeful in time she may develop into a jumper.
Jumping is in Weller’s blood — she rode on the point-to-point circuit in England before taking out a trainer’s licence as a 23-year-old. She enjoyed some success, having worked previously for trainers of the calibre of Nicky Henderson.
With a sister living in New Zealand, Weller made the move in 2004 and spent seven years working for top trainer Murray Baker at his Cambridge base, riding such good horses as Nom du Jeu, Lion Tamer and Rios, while training six winners on the flat and over the sticks.
Weller headed to Australia to work for Mornington trainer Robert Kingston in 2011. A short stint with David Brideoake followed before Weller began pre-training for Darren Weir, working with gallopers of the calibre of Burning Front and Cliff’s Edge.
Since taking out her own Australian licence in 2017, Weller has trained two winners from 14 runners, while pre-training for Kingston, Mick Kent, Dave Feek and Shane Nichols.
Stable star Surprise Hero, a $9900 online purchase who’s won one of six for Weller, will head to Geelong on Friday for a benchmark 70 over 1340 metres.
The trainer says she’s happy with the six-year-old Kaphero mare’s progress.
“She’s in great fettle. We need to get her on a good surface, which is going to be tough this time of year, but she’s fresh and raring to go.”
A first for Adam
It was great to see Cranbourne based dual-licence holder Adam McCabe break through for his first victory as a trainer at Racing.com Park on Tuesday when four-year-old gelding Dennis won the Lifestyle Communities BM58 Handicap (1000m).
McCabe and partner Sage Scally have five horses in work, with some nice yearlings in the wings, and were delighted to get on the board at their 13th attempt.
Formerly trained by Darren Weir, Dennis ($19) led from start to finish under Harry Grace, relishing the drop back in class from benchmark 75 grade.
One of the McCabe stable’s recent yearling purchases is a half-sister to Dennis by Lucas Cranach.
Still the holder of a jockey’s licence, McCabe prefers to concentrate on training these days and hasn’t ridden in race since winning on Our Audrey (whom he now trains) at Cranbourne on November 24, 2017.
The 27-year-old, who is tall for a jockey and has battled weight problems, has ridden 204 winners (47 in the city), highlighted by Avoid Lightning in the listed Lightning Stakes in Adelaide in 2012.
Templetons target Top End
Moe-based husband-and-wife trainers Paul and Tracey Templeton have arrived in the Top End with a small team to target the lucrative Darwin carnival.
Tracey reports the pair arrived safely last week after the marathon 3885-kilometre journey.
“We are here and the horses have travelled really well.”
Rakitiki will be the Templetons’ first runner this Saturday in 0-64 company over 1100 metres.
The pair hope to mix business and pleasure on a two-month working holiday in the warmth with a team of competitive bread-and-butter gallopers.
Rakitiki has shown a particular liking for Fannie Bay’s sand/oil surface, with five wins there in the past two seasons.
The Templetons won races at last year’s Darwin carnival with Rakitiki (two wins), Preemptive and Mulligans Falls, sharing their successes with comeback jockey Jason Maskiell.
Rakitiki has been joined this year by promising restricted-class galloper Dominant Gene and lightly raced maiden Equine Lotto, while this year’s wildcard is the formerly Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Suspense.
Now a six-year-old, Suspense is a five-time city-winning sprinter, purchased by the Templetons in January in an Inglis digital sale for $27,500.
Although none of the four has raced recently, they have looked in great order at the local trials.
Bundalaguah cult hero, Not Enough Effort is having well deserved break in the paddock after tasting defeat for the first time at Flemington last Saturday in a competitive three-year-old race down the straight.
The winner of his first four starts and $210,600 in his first racing preparation, Not Enough Effort raced keenly in the early stages and weakened noticeably from the 100 metres. The vet steward found the gelding to be suffering mild colic.
Trainer Sharyn Trolove reported this week: “Unfortunately he pulled up with colic after his race, but thankfully he’s fine now.
“Not everything goes to plan but our boy has certainly exceeded all expectations in his first racing preparation.
“He’ll enjoy a nice spell before being aimed at a spring campaign.”