A nine year old imported galloper that had not won for three years and a jockey who had been trying to win the race for 40 years combined for a something of a boilover in today’s Listed Carlton Mid Wyong Gold cup (2100m).
The Kris Lees trained Slow Pace ($18) ridden by Robert Thompson, simply outstayed the opposition on a heavy track in drizzling rain but in front if a very big crowd that had Wyong Race Club officials ecstatic.
“This is an amazing crowd considering the rain was quite heavy this morning and at one stage we wondered if we would even get through the program,” CEO, David Jewell, said.
“It shows that Central Coast people love their sport, love their racing and love an opportunity to get out and socialise.
“The track held up remarkably well and is a credit to our track manager, Chris Allen and his staff.
“We got very good comments from the jockeys about the surface and the way it stood up.”
Slow Pace was one of two runners that Lees had in the race and the lesser performed of his two.
His other runner, Taree cup winner Olympic Academy, never handled the track and finished last.
Slow Pace, raced by Australian Bloodstock, had not won since scoring in a Group Three in France in June 2013.
It was soon after that Australian Bloodstock brought him to Australia and gave him to Lees to train.
In 21 starts for Lees he was placed six times including a third in a Group Three Newcastle Newmarket, a third in a Group Three JRA Plate at Randwick, two thirds at Randwick and a second at Rosehill.
However he was often forced to carry big weights and Thompson said the 54kgs he carried in the cup may have been the key to his win.
“He relished being on the minimum weight,” Thompson said.
Despite being Australia’s most winning jockey and despite wins in feature races throughout the country Thompson had never won the Wyong cup before.
“It’s taken me 40 years,” he said.
A mid race move by Thompson might have been another key to the win.
He had Slow Pace racing in fourth position with Halfway To Heaven (Kathy O’Hara) setting the pace.
At the 1100 metres Thompson made his move, sliding up to sit Slow Pace just outside the leader.
Slow Pace went to the lead after turning for home and refused to give in, beating the favourite Sacred Master (Hugh Bowman) by half a length.
It was a mighty effort from Thompson having his first ride since a nasty fall in the mounting yard at Cessnock 11 days earlier.
Lees admitted that at one stage he had considered retiring Slow Pace.
“He has had a lot of joint issues but we decided to keep him going and Robert rode him in the Taree cup when he finished eighth,” Lees said.
“He came back and said the horse would win the Port Macquarie cup so this win is a bit of a surprise.
“This horse will go to the Newcastle cup and you never know he might go to the Port Macquarie cup after that.
“It is three weeks later which is ideal.”
The locally trained Get On The Grange, trained by Allan Kehoe and ridden by Jay Ford, ran a mighty race for third.
He was in third and fourth place on the fence to the turn and momentarily looked a winning chance until over hauled late.
The John O’Shea trained Fitou finally achieved a goal that the trainer had set for the mare when she resumed to win the Listed $120,000 Winning Appliances Mona Lisa (1350m).
“She has now won black type which was the goal so everything else from here is a bonus,” assistant trainer, Darren Beadman, said.
“She promised so much early but after she ran sixth in the Dark Jewel at Scone we sent her to the paddock and she has come back a better mare.
“We went into the race not knowing how she would handle the heavy track but now we know she can get through it we have even more options with her.
“She had been placed in twice in soft going but this sort of going was an unknown.
“There will be some nice fillies and mares races over the carnivals that will suit her.
“She is a bonny mare.”
The win catapulted James McDonald to 13 points and wrapped up the result of the Nathan Berry shield for jockeys over the two days of the carnival.
His nearest rival, Blake Shinn, did not have rides in the last two races.
Fitou was well back early and the widest runner on the turn as McDonald went looking for better going.
She ploughed through the heavy track to win by one and a quarter lengths from the Tracey Bartley trained Tears In Heaven (Grant Buckley) with La Muse (Jason Collett) a further three quarters of a length back third.
Tears In Heaven ran a mighty race, settling in fourth place on the fence to the turn.
Buckley pushed her through and Tears In Heaven fought on doggedly as Buckley gradually let her drift further away from the fence towards better going .
Damien Lane has been training at Wyong for five years and had never trained a winner on the track until Helensburgh Ham (Andrew Adkins) led all the way to win the Senpos Da Vinci (1300m).
“I have probably had about 20 seconds here but this is my first Wyong winner,” Lane said.
“The silly thing is I have had quite a few winners at Gosford and they are similar tracks.”
Helensburgh Ham was having his fourth start for Lane after being switched from Stephen Farley and may now return to Sydney for another mid week race.
“We know he is up to that company with placings at Warwick Farm and Canterbury at his last two runs before today,” Lane said.
“However he has been up a long time.
“I will talk to the owner and we will decide whether to give him another run or turn him out.
“Andrew did a great job on the horse and rated him perfectly.
“He is a good kid.”
Helensburgh Ham hung on to beat the Kim Waugh trained Calabasas (Blake Shinn), which was having its second run after running second at Gosford last month.
The Gordon Yorke trained Marscay Force made it three wins from his last three starts and is starting to win back the support of his trainer with a strong win in the Doyalson Wyee RSL Club Springtime Hcp (1100m).
It also sealed a bond that Yorke’s apprentice Eric Cheung is developing with the grey.
“I had a big opinion of this horse earlier in his career but he developed some niggling injuries that set him back,” Yorke said.
“He has come good now though and I think he can go on with it.
“He is certainly racing well.”
Cheung has ridden Marscay Force to all three of those wins.
He had the horse racing on equal terms with the other two leaders, Petrossian and Zoutenant, with Skrinpchenko sitting back in fourth place.
As soon as he turned for home Cheung sent Marscay Force to the lead and he went on to beat Skripchenko by one and a half lengths.
Cheung came to Australia from Hong Kong and joined Yorke on the advice of Gold Coast trainer Mark Sims.
“I was working on the Gold Coast and wanted to ride and asked Mr Sims who I should approach and he recommended Mr Yorke,” Cheung said.
“It was good advice.”
The Kristen Buchanan trained Echo Effect led all the way to win the Hunter Petroleum Class Two (1200m) and take his record to three wins from his only three starts with Paul King riding him each time.
Now the horse is off to Randwick on September 17 although Buchanan is still to decide which race he will run in.
“There are several options there,” she said.
King was able to control the tempo from the outset and in the last 100 metres Echo Effect underlined his ability by drawing away from what was a small but classy field to win by more than three lengths.
Echo Effect was bred in Western Australia by Nino and Tina Tufilli and sent to Buchanan as a yearling.
“I used to educate horses for them when I was at University in Perth and we have remained friends since,” Buchanan said.
“There is another yearling out of the same mare they are sending over and it is due to arrive next week.
“Echo Effect always showed us that he had plenty of ability but it was a matter of getting him to learn what racing is all about.”
King has been associated with Echo Effect since he arrived at the stable and did a lot of the work to educate him.
“I knew from the start he was going to be good and I told Kristen that when Two Blue is retired this horse will be her next star,” King said.
Jason Collett disobeyed instructions but it turned out for the best when the Bjorn Baker trained Ubatuba came from well back early to win the Central Coast Express Advocate Maiden (1200m).
“Bjorn wanted Jason to lead but Jason summed up the situation perfectly,” foreman, Jack Bruce, said.
“We have waited a long time for this win because we always knew the horse had ability but it has taken him time to work out what racing is about.
“He is atleast a city mid week horse.”
Collett said he had no option but to go back.
“He just wouldn’t pick up the bit early but he was strong at the finish,” Collett said.
Gosford trainer, Carmen Murnane, had two reasons to celebrate after Smarty Pants (Adrian Layt) scored a tough win in the Bishop Collins Accountants Benchmark 63 (1600m).
She and her partner, suspended jockey Chris O’Brien, head to Cairns next week for a holiday.
“Now I have some spending money,” she said.
“It is good to get another win with this horse.
“We were reasonably confident because we know he can handle a wet track.”
Layt had only the one ride and was on the phone several time to stewards throughout the day checking to make sure that the meeting was going ahead and that this, the final race, would be run.
Smarty Pants never had an easy run from his wide barrier.
He was always the widest runner, gradually moved around the field and hit the lead at the top of the straight.
The favourite, the Jeff Englebrecht trained The Iron Maiden (Grant Buckley) which is a noted mud lark, ranged up beside Smarty Pants but the winner fought back and would not yield to beat that horse by a long neck.
Patience from Anthony Cummings finally paid off when Love Las Vegas (Hugh Bowman) came from last to grab the lead near the line and win the Biochem Water Maiden (1200m).
It was the mare’s 13th start but Edward Cummings said his father had never lost faith in the horse.
“We have just had to be patient because she was slow to mature,” he said.
“We have always thought she was up to mid week grade in the city and possibly even Saturday class.
“That was a great ride by Hugh.
“It is very satisfying when you can get a rider of Hugh’s calibre on one of your horses.”
Bowman let Love Las Vegas track the favourite Irithea to the turn then went to the centre of the track and gradually wore down that horse to grab the lead on the line.
Local trainers had great day with Kristen Buchanan winning the Class Two with Echo Effect and Damien Lane the Da Vinci with Helensburgh Ham.
Tracey Bartley ran second in the Mona Lisa with Tears In Heaven, Allan Kehoe third in the cup with Get On The Grange, Kim Waugh second with Calabas in the Da Vinci, Norman Rogers third with Alaskan Wolf in the Springtime Hcp while The Iron Maiden ran second in the final race, the Benchmark 63, for Jeff Englebrecht and Pinot Gris third for Les Tilley.