The big stables descended on Wyong last Friday for the $160,000 Wyong Gold Cup (2100m), led by Chris Waller with five of the 16 runners.
In something of a rarity when Waller goes in team-handed, the punters got it right with $4.80 favourite Wu Gok getting the money.
Waller’s other runners came third (Vaucluse Bay), fifth, sixth and eighth.
Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott had second (Hush Writer) and 10th. Kris Lees had fourth, seventh and 15th.
The cup was Wu Gok’s second listed-race triumph in less than a week, following the previous Saturday’s Premier’s Cup (1900m) at Rosehill.
At Wyong he sustained a strong run from the 600-metre mark to defeat Hush Writer by a length and a half.
Jockey James McDonald, who rode Wu Gok, had finished second behind him on Come Play With Me in the Premier’s Cup.
“He beat me last Saturday and I learned a little bit off him because he stayed on really well,” McDonald said. “I thought, ‘There won’t be a horse that looks better than him today,’ and he raced accordingly.
“It was a great effort by Chris Waller’s team to back him up so quickly and for the horse to run so well.”
Stable rep Jack Bruce said Wu Gok was “in a very good vein of form”.
He’s been up a while but he’s been racing consistently. He’s a strong stayer and it was a good ride. He (McDonald) got on his bike and that’s the way you’ve got to ride Wyong. The experienced jockeys make these decisions and get it right.”
Housewife turns it on
Most punters weren’t so pleased with themselves earlier in the day when the other feature race on the program, the $140,000, listed Mona Lisa Stakes for fillies and mares, went to $26 outsider Foxy Housewife, trained by Joseph Pride and ridden by last season’s champion apprentice Robbie Dolan.
Like McDonald later in the day, Dolan commenced his run at the 600-metre mark. After coming wide on the turn, the mare finished strongly down the outside to defeat the Godolphin galloper, Laburnum by a head with $3.40 favourite Connemara third.
Foxy Housewife’s win was her second from three starts since joining Pride’s stables and her first at listed level.
Demi deserved one
The winning trainer, the winning jockey, a commentator and many spectators believed Lady Demi had been beaten in the tightest of finishes in last Saturday’s Class 3 TAB Highway Handicap at Randwick but the judge determined otherwise, declaring the mare the winner by a short half-head over Rioli.
Lady Demi, trained on the south coast by Terry Robinson, was having her fourth attempt at a TAB Highway, following two seconds and an unlucky sixth.
On Saturday the mare, settled midfield, wide with cover, under apprentice Brock Ryan.
In the straight, Lady Demi and Rioli made their runs simultaneously.
Quickly gathering in the leaders, the pair settled down to fight out a thrilling finish with Lady Demi just prevailing.
“I thought we got beat to tell the truth, but she deserved to win,” said Robinson, who has now won 12 editions of the TAB Highway series.
“We’ll probably give her a blow now. She has done a good job this time in. There’s a race on Kosciuszko Day, a Class 3, that may suit or we may even put her away for the Country Championships.”
Lees lauds Collett
The final race at Randwick, a 1500-metre benchmark 94, saw Newcastle galloper Articus ($21), trained by Kris Lees and ridden by Jason Collett, get up in the last stride by a short head in a three-way finish from Scarlet Dream and favourite Sweet Deal, who’d attempted to lead all the way.
“He’s been threatening to win a race like this,” said Lees. “His work has been good and he got a great ride. Jason was able to get him into the one-one.
“The horse showed a bit of desire. He dug deep to win. We might look at giving him his chance in the Cameron Handicap, (Newcastle, September 20).”
Collett called it “a great win”.
“We ended up in a positive spot and that was probably the difference because I didn’t have to make up much ground.”
Logan gets the bob in
There was yet another exciting finish at Griffith on Saturday when the Griffith Cup (1350m) went to $3 favourite Logan River.
From the start, the four-year-old shared the lead with Bedazzled before forging to the front at the 800-metre mark.
On the turn, Bedazzled moved up to challenge. The pair then drew away from the remainder of the field and settled down to fight out the finish.
In a real “head bobber” Logan River scored by just a nose.
The winner is trained at Albury by Mitchell Beer and was ridden by Simon Miller.
Miller went on to ride Ballista to victory in the final race to bring up a winning double.
Earlier on the program, Wagga trainer Trevor Sutherland led in the first two winners at good prices — Our Romeo at $10 and Is Anyone There $16 — to take training honours for the day.
At Mendooran on the same day, the 1200-metre Mendooran Cup, saw even-money favourite He’s Our Toy Boy, trained by Jane Clement and ridden by Anthony Cavallo, score by nearly a length from Satan Da with Zoutenant third.
Sunday’s Mudgee feature, the 1400-metre Mudgee Mug, was won in comfortable fashion by the Brett Cavanough-trained Sugar Dance, ridden by apprentice Kate Cowan.
This Friday sees the Tuncurry-Forster Jockey Club hold its feature meeting of the season, highlighted by the $32,000 XXXX Gold Tuncurry-Forster Cup (2100 metres).
Saturday is cup day at Collarenebri, with the feature over 1400 metres.
On Sunday, the City of Dubbo Turf Club will hold its annual Showcase meeting featuring the the $100,000 Dubbo Cup (1600m).
The main supporting races on what should be a great day’s racing are the $50,000 2019 Showcase Picnic Championship (1400m) and the $50,000 XXXX Flying Handicap (1100m).
Full form for the Tuncurry meeting starts on page 49 of this edition of Winning Post, Dubbo page 39.