Perfect day for Warwick Races
DESPITE the threat of dark clouds earlier in the week, the weather cleared to perfect conditions for the winter meeting at Allman Park on Saturday.
Historically, the meeting is one of the least patronised in terms of nominations but this was challenged on Saturday with capacity fields in most races and close finishes.
The irrigated track now means that a good grass cover can be provided for racing all year round and this is evident in the number of horses starting and distances travelled by trainers. Stables from Roma to Southport were represented, however it was the local horses which stood out with two wins and a quinella from local yards.
Race 1, the Horse and Jockey Hotel Motel Maiden Plate over 800m was a fiercely contested affair with victory going to Twilights ($5) from the Tony Webb stable in Toowoomba. The 2yo Fantastic Light filly scored by a short neck over Get Closer and Robdon Rambler in a blanket finish. The filly is raced by the Head family, long term supporters of Downs racing and is out of Gay Prediction.
Part owner Pru Head, who incidentally is Magic Million founder Carl Waugh's daughter, indicated that Gay Prediction was a half sister to Gay Crusader, a smart Toowoomba youngster which raced in the Golden Slipper some years back. The performance of the day was in the second race, the Ergon Energy Class B Handicap 1200M. The Mick Hemmings trained Auanne ($13), a 5yo Aucash mare finished strongly along the fence from well back to score by a half length from another local Shumie Go. Lavendi was a nose away in third.
Winning jockey Dean McWhinney rode the mare brilliantly and on that effort we'll see more of the former Warwick lad as he gets greater opportunities. The margin was not indicative of the performance as Auanne looked well beaten before her barnstorming finish.
The win was very satisfying for the Hemmings family as they also bred the mare. Tragedy struck shortly after the race with locally owned Carry The Flag collapsing in the turn out of the straight. Apprentice jockey Katrina Ashton was luckily unhurt in the incident. The horse was attended to by the club vet and pronounced deceased.
The sensations continued in Race 3, the Raheen Stud Maiden Plate 1350m. As the field was about to be despatched, Gold Coast visitor Rhidan's Chant flipped backwards through the barriers dislodging jockey Lyall Appo.
Miraculously Appo avoided serious injury but the horse became loose in the back straight and delayed the start by eluding all efforts to be caught. After being scratched, the race got under way and went to Oakey filly Skeyana ($16). Poetic Mistress was a neck away in second with Dorothy's Lad a further 1.5 lengths astern in third.
The training performance of the meeting went to local trainer Les Clarke with the win by Impersonator ($3.50) in the Rupert's Bar and Grill Class 3 Plate 1500M. The flashy Redoute's Choice gelding had not started for two years and had previously been under Lee Freedman's care.
In shades of the Takeover Target story, Clarke purchased the gelding at a Magic Millions Tried horse sale earlier this year for an extremely modest sum.
The horse had been a $900,000 yearling and although scoring in Melbourne had developed problems. Les has done a terrific job and intends to try the horse in midweek metropolitan company. Impersonator scored by .75 lengths over Opulass with $2.50 favourite Markanyon 2 lengths away in third place.
The Barry Jones Recognition Class 5 Handicap 1200M, a race in honour of retiring caller Barry Jones concluded the meeting. Top weight Flying Along outclassed his opposition with a tenacious performance. The $2.60 favourite was entitled to drop out after racing near the lead and having no peace but kept grinding away to win by a long head over Tycoon Ken.
Nanango mare Haylee Miss finished a further 1.5 lengths away in third. Trainer Donald Baker astutely places his horses and is not afraid to patronise country venues.
Appropriately, Barry Jones called the race and in doing so ended a long association with Warwick racing.
The next Warwick meeting is on August 21.