Such is the continuing popularity of the TAB Highway series that Racing NSW divided last Saturday’s 1200-metre Highway Class 2 at Rosehill, with stables in the state’s south reaping the benefits.
The first division went to Braidwood galloper Run Like a Rebel ($9), trained by Aaron Clarke and ridden by three-kilo claimer Mikayla Weir.
Weir was able to slot her mount into a lovely position, one out and one back, where she stayed until the top of the straight, at which point she pulled the mare off the heels of the leader and sooled her to the front.
Eurosay ($21), who’d tracked Run Like a Rebel in running, finished the race off strongly to be beaten a short half-head.
“She’s tough,” said Clarke. “She found some luck with the barriers for a change and had no weight on her back today so it was a good win.
“You look at her record and you don’t think she’s as good as she is but she’s a tough horse.
“We were confident but they’re all good horses in Sydney and she was able to put herself where she needed to be. It’s a good feeling to win a Highway.”
Weir too admitted to feeling confident a fair way from home.
“She was a pretty easy ride and I knew she was a big chance at the point of the turn,” she said.
“She was strong enough and I thought she was going to hold it. She quickened at the top of the straight and sustained it.”
In the second of the TAB Highways, Albury mare, Princess Cordelia went straight to the front and never looked like losing.
The $3 favourite, trained by Mitchell Beer and ridden by Tim Clark, scored by a length and three-quarters from Congregate, who’d been trapped wide for much of the race but fought on strongly.
“She had nice form coming into the race,” Clark said. “It wasn’t the plan to lead but she began well and I knew there wasn’t a lot of speed in the race. I didn’t want to get stuck in behind any ‘slows’ and get dragged back.
“She showed a nice turn of foot at the top of the straight and held on well. She did a good job, so well done to all involved with her — they presented her in great order today and got the prize.”
After the win, stable rep Brent Crawford said the winner was now likely to be set for the Country Championships.
“She’ll run a trip and she’s going really well, so we’ll have a crack.”
With the growing number of race meetings having to be transferred, postponed or abandoned in recent weeks as a result of bushfires, there are concerns for the immediate future of racing in country NSW.
After his win with Run Like a Rebel, Braidwood-based Aaron Clarke told media that he hadn’t known on the Friday whether he’d make it to Rosehill.
“We were trying to put out fires,” he said. “They got within a kilometre of the stable so it got pretty hairy. I only got a few hours’ sleep.
“The wind just changed before the fire jumped so it was good luck. We were a little worried about getting the horse up here.”
Dubbo trainer Clint Lundholm said he was concerned that racing would be forced to cease in some areas of the state after the Dubbo track ran out of water.
“It’s a scary thought. I’ve heard a lot of clubs are in real trouble with water. It could get to the stage where there’s no racing.”
Time to fly
Newcastle mare In Her Time has been destined for Sha Tin since Hong Kong-based Orbis Bloodstock bought a half-share in her earlier this year, and the plan comes together in Sunday’s Hong Kong International Sprint.
In Her Time, trained by Kris Lees, will be Australia’s sole representative in the rich 1200-metre event.
In Her Time, who finished third to Nature Strip and Loving Gaby in the VRC Sprint Classic at her most recent run, was rated a $15 chance in early markets, with Brenton Avdulla to ride.
Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys has declared the recent Saturday metro meetings at Newcastle and Kembla Grange a success after 6500 people attended Newcastle for the inaugural running of the $1 million Hunter, and more than 6000 were at Kembla for the inaugural $1 million Gong.
“They’re big events in these cities,” he said. “Newcastle is the second-biggest city in NSW and Wollongong is the third-biggest.
“You need to promote to all these regions, making it a main event where it’s going to be the social event of the year at these two places.
“We have to take racing to the people and give the people the opportunity to support racing at all times.”
Stipes strike on welfare
Racing NSW stewards have disqualified Hawkesbury-based owner/trainer Peter Chapman for 12 months following an inquiry into the condition and welfare of a thoroughbred mare, Badgirl Bubby, found in extremely poor condition in a paddock at Londonderry, west of Sydney.
Chapman was charged with failing to provide veterinary treatment to the horse where such treatment is necessary and failing to provide proper and sufficent nutrition.
Friday sees the Mudgee Race Club host its Showcase meeting featuring the $75,000 Mudgee Cup (1600m).
Saturday the highlight of the Cooma Monaro race meeting will be the 1600-metre Cooma Cup.
On Sunday at Hawkesbury, the main race will be the $50,000 fourth heat of the Summer Provincial Series (1500m).