TAB senior trader Tim Ryan declared Rematch the “lay of the day” prior to the running of last Saturday’s 1600-metre Class 3 TAB Highway Handicap at Newcastle. Ryan based his opinion on the fact that Rematch was starting from barrier 15 of 16.
Punters largely chose to ignore the advice, however. While Rematch eased from $3.20 to $3.70 he still started favourite and his backers duly collected, thanks to a great ride by leading jockey Nash Rawiller.
Rematch began quickly, enabling Rawiller to cross to the rails and take up the running. After giving his mount a “breather” in the middle stages, Rawiller called on Rematch to make his run at the top of the straight.
Rematch responded well to Rawiller’s hands-and-heels riding, clinging on to win by a nose from the fast-finishing Sharp Shock, with Devocean a half-length away in third place.
The win was the first metropolitan success for the Paul Messara/Leah Gavranich training partnership. The Scone-based duo only went into partnership in September.
“Leah has been with me since she was 19 and she’s now 34 so she’s been with me a long time,” Messara said. “She started at the bottom and has worked her way through.
“She’s a great asset to the stable and a very good horsewoman. I thought it was time. It’s important to give young people a go for their own professional progression.”
As for Rawiller’s tactics, Messara said: “I thought we’d be out the back storming home and we led. Didn’t imagine that in my wildest dreams, so great result. Best to leave the good jockeys to make up their own minds.”
Gen sparks joy
Messara and Gavranich were back in the winner’s circle later in the afternoon after their filly Genzano ($15) took out the Group 3 1600-metre Spring Stakes for three-year-olds.
Jockey Zac Lloyd settled the filly just off the pace before driving her to the front in the straight and going on to record a 1¼-length win from Kind Words, who finished strongly after being held up on the fence. Kintyre, who’d gone to the front a long way out, was a half-neck away third.
“I am delighted. It’s great for Leah and great for the team here,” Messara said.
“It’s pretty exciting. She’s won a couple in a row now and she’s obviously going to go places next preparation. She’s only going to get better. It’s just a fantastic day. It doesn’t get any better.”
Jockey Lloyd was equally pleased.
“She made that look very easy,” he said. “She’s a very nice horse and I’m very happy to get the ride for Paul and Arrowfield (Stud).”
The win was particularly special for Gavranich, as she had strapped the winner’s granddam, Ortensia, who won stakes races in four states and two hemispheres.
“How fitting that a granddaughter of Ortensia would be my first group winner,” she said.
Wangaratta trainer Ben Brisbourne pulled the right rein when he scratched Suparazi from last Saturday’s Caulfield meeting to run the gelding the day before at Gundagai.
Ridden by Nick Heywood, Suparazi ($4-$3.60) took the $100,000 Snake Gully Cup (1400m) by a length and three-quarters from Belleistic Kids with Cinque Torri a neck away in third place.
In the day’s other feature , The Tuckerbox (1000m), the top two in betting fought out the finish, with Mr Moppett ($3.90) defeating narrow favourite Lipstick Swing ($3.80) by a short half-head in what was a thrilling finish, with third placegetter Major Time just a neck away.
How the locals like it
At the Kembla Grange meeting the following day, jockey Brock Ryan rode a winning treble, all three for local trainer Benjamin Smith.
On a big day for the locals, Robert and Luke Price led in a winning double including $61 longshot Sweet Dixie in the $60,000 Super Maiden (1600m). That win brought up a double for jockey Robbie Downey.
At Bathurst the same afternoon, jockey Clayton Gallagher was dominant, riding four winners on the six-race program, while local trainer Gayna Williams led in a winning treble.
Meanwhile, Adaminaby Cup (1400m) saw the $3.20 equal favourites, Bellman and Choice Harvest, fight out the finish, Bellman prevailing by three-quarters of a length for Wangaratta trainer Andrew Dale and jockey Connor Murtagh. The pair then combined to take out the final event on the six-race program, the 1700-metre benchmark 58, with Adelaide’s Diamond ($3.80).
Murtagh finished with four wins for the afternoon, having ridden doubles for both Dale and another Wang trainer, Craig Weeding.
At Taree on Sunday, $100,000 Taree Gold Cup (2000m) saw the Katherine Owen-trained local Sound And Vision cause a boilover in scoring a short-neck win over short-priced favourite Rogue Bear, with Aramayo a half-neck away in third place. The winner started at $61 and was ridden by Madeline Owen.
Spanner in works
This Friday sees the Muswellbrook Race Club stage its popular Rusty Spanner raceday, featuring the $29,000 Rusty Spanner Sprint (1000m).
“This is truly a great country race with a distinctive trophy — a rusty spanner,” said club general manager Trevor Taylor.
Also on Friday, the Bong Bong Picnic Racing Club will conduct its annual race meeting at Wyeera, just outside Bowral in the Southern Highlands. Note, this meeting is for members only. There will also be a meeting at Orange on Friday.
In the Riverina on Saturday, a large crowd is expected to attend the Hay Jockey Club meeting.
“People in the bush have been experiencing hardship and that’s why the races are so important. It gives everyone a chance to let their hair down,” club president Cam Clark told media.