The Murrumbidgee Turf Club Guineas and Wagga Gold Cup will be heading back to Sydney after John Sargent’s successful snatch and grab job at Wagga on Friday.
The Randwick trainer only had two runners engaged at Friday’s meeting and was successful on both occasions; most notably winning the $160,000 Wagga Gold Cup with House of Cartier, who was ridden by Jess Taylor.
Starting at $5 on the NSW tote, the four-year-old Alamosa mare was dogged in the heavy going, holding on for a 0.5 of a length win over Maurus and Master of Arts.
Sargent also prepared Foxborough to win the MTC Guineas, who was ridden by Blaike McDougall.
The three-year-old Dissident filly, who started a $2.60 favourite, was a class above her rivals, finishing 5.44 lengths ahead of Cyborg and River Charge.
Sargent admitted that these races had been on the agenda for some time after some recent bad luck in Sydney.
“They both had been set for these races and neither of them had seen much luck here in Sydney in recent runs,” Sargent said.
“House of Cartier hadn’t been dealing with wide draws here and has always handled the cut out of the ground, while Foxborough got in well at the weights and also handles some cut out of the ground.”
Sargent has a history of winning Wagga’s biggest races and openly said the MTC Guineas was on his yearly hit list.
“I won that race (MTC Guineas) with Tinkermosa two years ago and it is a nice little race I always target,” Sargent said.
The Group one winning trainer, who has proven in recent times that he isn’t afraid of travelling outside of Sydney for the right event, said that the Murrumbidgee Turf Club track held up well considering the poor weather.
“It is a great track, it was amazing how well it held up and the curators did a great job,” Sargent said.
“It always plays fair and gives every horse a chance, it is just a pity there isn’t more tracks like Wagga closer to home.”
In the other feature race at Wagga on Friday, Keith Dryden with his talented filly, Rockarosa, won the 1400m Queen of the South.
The Canberra runner, who was ridden by Jay Ford, started $7.50 and just hung on for a 0.06 of a length victory over the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained Got Your Six, while Gotta Want It finished third.
In other races on the eight-race-program, Mouse Almighty for George Dimitropoulos and jockey Tyler Schiller was too good for Estrado and Nevada Dane, winning by 1.99 lengths in the 1000m Class Three.
The 1200m Maiden Showcase Plate saw popular Harden trainer Scott Spackman team up with Kathy O’Hara to win with Alise by 1.24 lengths over Miss Elsie May and Glorious Dream.
Norm Gardner tasted some success with Upper House winning the 1200m Benchmark 66 Handicap by 0.8 of a length over Fermanagh Lad and Vinnie Vega.
Starting at $6, Blaike McDougall gave the Canberra runner a good sit in the early stages before helping the Zariz gelding home for a well-earned victory.
Goulburn trainer Danny Williams kept going with his hot run of form when Leg Work, who was ridden by Brock Ryan, won the 1300m Benchmark 58 Handicap by 3.62 lengths from Port Triano and Damagic.
Williams was at it again in the final race, when the well tried Shelby Sixtysix won by 2.94 lengths in the 1200m Class One event.
Ridden by Shaun Guymer, the three-year-old held off the Rodger Waters trained Kaipaki and Coolyboss in a very tough victory.
Wagga holds up in wet and wild conditions
The Murrumbidgee Turf Club and racetrack manager Mark Hart were truly tested on Thursday and Friday with four days of rain resulting in heavy 9 and 10 race conditions for their two-day Wagga Gold Cup carnival.
66 horses were scratched from the two days of racing, including 37 on Thursday and 29 on Friday, but fields remained fairly strong with mudlarks coming to the fore in trying conditions.
Racing NSW steward Jason Shultz said it was a very good two days of racing in spite of the miserable conditions.
“They were both very ordinary days weather wise but the track handled the conditions perfectly and they were two pretty quiet days from the stewards point of view,” Shultz said.
“The grass cover they had on it was great, I don’t thing you would’ve seen better grass cover anywhere and the roots go that deep the track stays in place.”
Shultz identified one factor that suggested it was a good day for trainers and punters, with no racing bias in play across the 16 races.
“They came from everywhere to win, they were getting off the fence over both days, they all wanted to leave the rail in the straight but I didn’t see any bias or trends,” Shultz said.
The Southern Districts Racing Association steward commented on some of the more impressive wins on the day, mentioning one of the local winners in particular.
Obviously, Foxborough was the most impressive winner across the two days when winning the (MTC) Guineas,” Shultz said.
“It was nice to see George (Dimitropoulos) get a local win with Mouse Almighty in the first on Friday and Bell’s Innocent let down really nicely in her race and she could be one to follow,” Shultz said.
Albury jockey Blaike McDougall, who funnily enough rode Bell’s Innocent and Foxborough to victory, was another person who offered praise to the Murrumbidgee Turf Club after the two-day carnival.
“Wagga is probably one of my favourite country tracks in NSW, it is a credit to Mark Hart and all the staff there, it doesn’t matter if it is the middle of summer and middle of winter, it holds up well,” McDougall said.
“For the amount of racing it had and all the rain and to hold up the way it did, it was just great and a testament to the club.”
Winners and losers
Kerry Weir was out of the money at Wagga on Thursday and Friday, with Jounama and Crocodile Cod unable to perform at the SDRA’s premier two-day carnival.
On Thursday, Crocodile Cod finished seventh and was beaten 6.75 lengths in the 1600m Maiden/Class One Handicap.
The big boy would’ve been working overtime in the Heavy 9 conditions but still looked to hit the line nicely, suggesting he will be ready for a longer race next time out.
On Friday, Jounama was really disappointing, finishing ninth and beaten 6.43 lengths.
The Andy and Sue Groves owned mare didn’t handle the harder going closer to the rail, with the winners of the race coming down the outside, which seemingly was the good part of the track for this event.
• • • • • •
Todd Smart had three days to forget recently, with runners failing at Wagga on Friday, Kensington on Saturday and Dubbo on Sunday.
Our Volantis was well supported in the 1400m Queen of the South at Wagga only to finish midfield and beaten 3.48 lengths.
Divi then stepped out in a 1000m Benchmark 72 at Kensington and was out-paced and out-classed, finishing last and beaten 13 lengths.
The Moshe mare, which had won five and placed four times from 11 starts in Tasmania and Victoria before coming to NSW, has yet to fire for Smart in her three recent runs.
Smart then had the long trip home from Dubbo on Sunday when Stardux finished fourth, beaten 6.89 lengths in the 1600m Class One/Maiden event.
Ridden by Winona Costin, the five-year-old Teolfilo mare plugged away but the eventual winner, One Pound was just a little too good.
• • • • • •
The Tumut-owned Rosy Dawn was an eye-catching run despite finishing eighth and beaten 7.02 lengths in a 1200m Class One Handicap at Wagga on Friday.
In trying conditions that saw horizontal rain and a very muddy Wagga surface, the Norm Gardner runner was taken back to last by jockey Kayla Nisbet.
The leaders got away in the conditions but the four-year-old Al Maher mare made up a heap of ground in the final two furlongs, beating home eight runners in the large field.
It could definitely pay to follow the Canberra runner next time out.
• • • • • •
In the same race, George Dimitropoulos would have been happy with the efforts of My Solaki, who finished fifth and was beaten 6.08 lengths.
The three-year-old Supreme Class gelding still looks immature but was hitting the line nicely despite finding a little trouble on the home turn.
The Tumbarumba runner looks a handy type and should come back a better four-year-old after he finishes this preparation.
• • • • • •
The Sandy Tait and Jill Nivison owned Jodhpur finished second in the 1400m Class Two Handicap at Wagga on Thursday, beaten 2.95 lengths.
The Tim Donnelly trained runner started favourite in the event but just met a couple better on the day.
The prominent ownership pair then had Monkery in the Wagga Gold Cup on Friday, who was prepared by Dave Blundell.
The Gundagai runner came up against some handy city types but did connections proud, finishing seventh and beaten 8.3 lengths in the $160,000 feature event.
The Jason Crampton part-owned Soomaya will head to Leeton on Thursday with the Mitchell Beer stable.
The two-year-old Pride of Dubai filly was a little underwhelming at Bathurst last start, starting second favourite before finishing sixth and beaten 4.59 lengths.
The Albury runner was certainly immature at her first effort for Beer, which followed on from her late scratching at the gates at Wagga a week earlier.
Connections will be hoping the youngster can turn it around in this 1050m Maiden Handicap.
Nick Souquet went very close to a win at Wagga on Thursday and Friday, finishing in the money twice from three starts.
On Thursday, Souquet helped Openhimup to run second, finishing only 1.11 lengths off Fat Gecko in the 1000m Maiden Handicap for Peter Maher.
On Friday, Nevada Dance finished third for Souquet, 2.61 lengths off Mouse Almighty in the 1000m Class Three Handicap.
The Tumbarumba product, who is currently based in Corowa, will travel to Canberra for just one ride tomorrow when he hops aboard Concrete in the 1200m Benchmark 65 Handicap.
Riding for Joe Cleary, Souquet will guide the four-year-old Fastnet Rock gelding from gate seven in this open event.
The Canberra runner is a chance on his best form, boasting four wins and over $100,000 in prizemoney from 27 starts.