It was a very unorthodox sight to behold, but the Murrumbidgee Turf Club’s running of the annual Young Cup meeting was very well supported with plenty of local interest.
Typically held in Young, Thursday’s meeting was transferred to Wagga because the small country race club was unable to host their meeting under the new Covid-19 protocol.
Still, this didn’t stop 55 horses accepting and some very competitive racing ensuing.
The feature event, the 1660m Benchmark 74 Young Cup was won by the short-price favourite, Parliament.
The Andrew Dale runner, who was ridden by apprentice hoop Tyler Schiller, never looked like losing, bolting in for a comfortable two-length victory over the Gary Colvin trained Bravado Lass, while Willy White Socks was a further 1.8 lengths away in third.
Dale said the win was a good stepping-stone in preparing Parliament for future staying trips and was already eyeing off a trip to Albury in the coming weeks.
“It looked a suitable race on the calendar for him,” Dale said.
“I would love to get him out to 2000m again this preparation, he’s now racing like he’s really looking for it (and) Albury looks like the right stepping-stone before the 2000m.”
Schiller bookended the Wagga meeting, after riding home Lady Brook to win the first on the card, the 1000m Maiden Handicap.
The Phil Sweeney runner was very impressive, jumping well from gate six to lead comfortably, before bolting in by 4.61 lengths over Ember and Yulong Power.
Schiller was edged by another apprentice jockey in the second race, with Josh Richards booting home Withorn for a 0.4 of a length win over Mahsinger in the 1660m Class One Handicap.
The Maddison Collins trained Star Witness gelding was well supported before coming off the pace to win well and pay $3.30 on the NSW tote.
The Kerry Weir trained Crocodile Cod finished third in the event after doing all the hard work early.
Funky Farm won a thriller in the fourth event, the 1050m Benchmark 58 Handicap, winning by 0.04 of a length over Kentucky Wildcat, while Benno’s boy was a further 0.25 of a length away in third.
Trained by Rob Wellington and ridden by Nick Souquet, the Star Witness gelding paid $5.50 on the NSW tote.
Canberra trainer Gratz Vella tasted success in the fifth event, with Motime winning the 1200m Benchmark 50 Handicap by 0.23 of a length over Stato and Kruanui.
The Uncloe Mo gelding came into the event well supported from $4.90 into $3.90 and won accordingly.
The Wagga Riverside course will be in action again on Saturday, with the club hosting the annual Kurrajong Cup meeting.
Rocky Creed’s knockout punch to become Riverina champ
It wasn’t scripted as punters might have liked, but Rocky Creed has bolted in as one of the roughies to win the Riverina Region Championships at Wagga on Friday afternoon.
Paying $48.50 on the NSW tote, 2019 Temora Cup winning driver, Thomas Gilligan, gave the four-year-old the perfect drive, sitting two out, three back for a majority of the race, watching on as $1.10 race favourite Whereyabinboppin was forced to work hard to sit outside the early leader.
The Chris McPherson trained gelding then found another gear coming into the home straight, driven to the lead and holding on for a 1.4m victory over We Salute You, while Western Sonador was a further 2m away in third.
The surprise winner recorded some fast times too, running 1:54.4 minutes for the mile rate and 1:41.4 overall.
After the win, connections celebrating the victory and there was nobody more excited than Gilligan, who had just driven his first Group 1 winner.
“It was absolutely unreal, I am just glad to be apart of it,” Gilligan said.
“It’s the first group 1 horse for them and first group 1 winner for me.”
Gilligan praised McPherson and connections for the training effort, suggesting the son of Pet Rock was only going to get getting better.
“They have done a great job with him, he keeps getting better and better and the way the race was ran, it suited him down to the ground,” Gilligan said.
“You knew he was handy when he started as a two-year-old, and it was just a matter of time until things just clicked.”
Rocky Creed now has the record of 30 starts for eight wins, nine placings and almost $100,000 in prizemoney.
In the Riverina Region Championships consolations, the favourites faired no better than Whereyabinboppin, with some more surprise results.
The Rodney Woodhouse trained and Peter McRae driven, Time Keepa Lombo, recorded a mile rate of 1:58.7 minutes and an overall time of 2:47.4 to hold off Topsie Grinner and The Ideal Dancers in the first consolation, taking a majority of the $14,790 pizemoney.
In the last consolation, Hilly popped up as a 20/1 roughie for trainer Paul Kahlefeldt and driver Jared Kahlefeldt, holding off Rocky Branch and Kamwood Izzy.
The seven-year-old recorded a mile rate of 1:57.4 minutes and an overall time of 2:45.6 in taking out the $9,690 event.
Winners and losers
The Kerry Weir trained Crocodile Cod put in a very game effort to finish third in the 1660m Class One at Wagga Riverside on Thursday.
Coming up against horses that had already won, Simon Miller took the three-year-old forward from barrier nine but the maiden runner was caught three-wide for the duration of the race.
Despite this, the Cluster gelding dug deep and was only beaten 1.39 lengths and is looking more likely of breaking his maiden status in the coming weeks.
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Citizen Scientist put in another eye-catching run for Gundagai trainer Michelle Russell at Wagga on Thursday, finishing fifth and beaten 6.23 lengths in the 1200m Maiden Plate.
The three-year-old, who had Nick Souquet in the saddle, was blocked for a run at multiple times and would have been much closer with clearer running.
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Gundagai Cup winner Monkery was disappointing in the 2000m TAB Federal Benchmark 70 Handicap at Canberra on Friday.
The Dave Blundell runner had conditions to suit with a soft surface but failed the finish off the race, beaten 11.63 lengths.
It almost looked as though Kayla Nisbet struggled to get the Myboycharlie gelding to switch on once the leaders made the early dash for home entering the home stright.
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Despite finishing 10th, Mouse Almighty was not disgraced during her Sydney debut, only beaten 3.4 lengths in the 1000m Class Three Handicap at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The Star Witness filly was caught behind traffic and looked to be a little hard to handle for apprentice hoop Louise Day but hit the line well.
The three-year-old will now go to the paddock and will definitely be one to watch next preparation.
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Peter Korn’s Byblos Boy has finished down the track in the 1000m Benchmark 58 at Goulburn on Sunday.
The meeting, which was originally set down for Nowra, was moved to Goulburn due to the state of the track.
The 10-year-old had Kayla Nisbet in the saddle and looked in need of a run, seemingly off the bit for most of the race and finishing a well beaten last.
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The Tumut owned Rosy Dawn also raced at Goulburn after originally preparing for Nowra and looked to struggle in the heavy conditions in the early stages of the 1400m Class One Handicap.
Blaike McDougall did get the Al Maher mare going in the final two furlongs of the race, with the four-year-old hitting the line nicely, coming from last to dead-heat for fourth placing, beaten 6.83 lengths.
Addocarr has been nominated for a 1500m Benchmark 62 Handicap at Warwick on Sunday.
Part-owned in Tumut, the Tony Gollan runner will want to improve on two eighth placings this preparation and may get the chance in what should be an easier event in country QLD.
The Sizzling gelding did look in better order second up, when only beaten 2.25m and will surely strip fitter third up this preparation; watch markets.
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Todd Smart has entered King Lenny for Warwick Farm on Wednesday and Bathurst on Thursday.
The two-year-old debuted at Kembla Grange on May 16 and wasn’t disgraced, beaten 3.3 lengths in a tough little two-year-old event.
The Choisir colt is currently 25th in order of entry for the 1250m two-year-old event at Warwick Farm and looks more likely of getting a run in the 1100m two-year-old Gold Nugget at Bathurst.
Nick Souquet again found himself in the winner’s circle after riding home Funky Farm for the win at Wagga on Thursday.
The Rob Wellington runner was well supported into $5.50 from $8 in the 1050m Benchmark 58 event and just fell in, winning by 0.04 of a length over Kentucky Wildcat and Bennos Boy.
The win follows on from Souquet riding a double at the Leeton Cup meeting the week earlier, giving the Tumbarumba product four wins from his last 15 rides.