In November last year Wyong trainer Mark Cross took a horse called Strategic Flight to Armidale for a Benchmark 55 and backed it only to be beaten into second place by a horse called Stradance, then trained at Port Macquarie by Jenny Graham.
“It cost us so when I saw Stradance advertised for sale at an auction I knew I had to buy him,” Cross said. “He owed us plenty.”
Cross paid just $3000 for the five year old and he not only re-couped his purchase price several times over but also the loss incurred at Armidale when Stradance (pictured here) led all the way for Brenton Avdulla to win the Artywalls Benchmark 60 (1200m) at Wyong on Sunday.
Now Cross is headed for another hoped for pay day with the horse at Canterbury in two weeks time in a Benchmark 67 over 1550 metres.
Soon after buying Stradance Cross took him to Scone where he finished eighth but two weeks later he ran a close third at Wyong, after being in third place all the way. Today Cross told Avdulla to take the horse straight to the lead.
“He was fit and I knew he would keep going,” Cross said. “In fact he would keep going all day which is why I think the step up at Canterbury will suit him. “It’s great to win but even better when it’s on your home track.
“I must give Jenny Graham credit. “The horse came to me in great order.”
Cross and his wife Alison have been breeding for several years but two years ago he was granted an owner/trainers licence and this was his third winner.
“I only have two in work but there are several young ones which we bred ourselves that are coming along,” he said.
That was the second leg of a winning treble for Avdulla after earlier winning the Anthony’s Kitchen and Sunset Bar Two Year Old with Angharad for John O’Shea and Godolphin.
The third winner came in the last race when he changed tactics on the Kris Lees trained Vanderkemp then virtually lifted the horse across the line to win the Greg Martin Memorial Class Two (1100m).
Avdulla was forced to go forward and sit outside the leader Denny Allcharges when the speed slackened early.
In the straight Vanderkemp was under pressure and the Paul Perry trained Crammant (Thomas Huet) got past him before desperate riding from Avdulla helped him lift and regain the lead to win by half a neck.
Foreman Cameron Swan said the stable had an opinion of Vanderkemp but were not sure what to expect from him on the heavy track. “We thought he would handle it but we weren’t sure,” Swan said. “He is a nice horse and that was a very game win.”
Avdulla said the plan had been to ride the horse back with cover. “However everyone up front suddenly took hold and I had no option but to go forward,” Avdulla said. “I have ridden him twice for two wins and he is a nice horse with a lot of upside.”
The Godolphin owned two year old Angharad stamped herself as a filly of the future with a fighting win in the Anthony’s Kitchen and Sunset Bar Two Year Old (1350m).
She had to dig deep under hard riding from Brenton Avdulla at only her second run back from a spell but found plenty to beat stable mate Kabuki (Tye Angland) by a long neck.
However Avdulla said the big, rangy filly needed to be kept to bigger tracks from now on. “She hung on every turn,” Avdulla said.
“We were in front early which is where I didn’t necessarily want to be but then Thomas Huet went to the lead (on Dark Fire) and I was able to slot in behind him. “His horse started to stop nearing the turn so I found myself in front again.”
Later Godolphin and Christian Reith combined to win the Wiseberry Heritage Benchmark 66 (1350m) with Eschiele.
However they had to survive a tight finish with the Michael Clout trained Moray (Adrian Layt) which attempted to lead all the way only to be beaten a nose. The finish was so close the judge had to call for a print to decide the outcome.
Reith said greenness had contributed to the tight finish. “I thought I was going to put the other horse away but my horse wanted to float then got his head up,” Reith said. “There are still a few little issues with him that need to be ironed out.”
Eschiele won at Wyong three starts back on a deteriorating track and he revelled in similar conditions today.
A noble move from trainer Bjorn Baker paid off when first starter Mr Magpie won the Soldiers Beach Functions Centre Maiden (1100m) and stable mate The Amateur ran third.
Both horses were late entries after nominations were extended. “I wanted to support racing and make sure Wyong Race Club was able to run the race,” Baker said.
“It is good to see the horse win for Steve Gillard who is a good supporter of the stable.”
This was despite Mr Magpie going to the trials at Kembla Grange last Wednesday and running third.
Thomas Huet set Mr Magpie a bit of a task, circling the small field to eventually sit in second place behind the leader, perennial place getter Kiwi Boss, having his 16th and aiming for his first win after nine placings.
He tried hard under Christian Reith but again failed to finish the race off, beaten a long neck into second place.
Baker was also happy with The Amatuer’s third. “It was a good run but he needs further,” Baker said.
Gerald Ryan believes that Rosetta’s Whey can progress to winning a city race and would have no trouble handling 1400 metres after her first up win in the Central Coast Men Of Football Maiden (1100m).
“Perhaps she should have won a race before now but she has come back from her spell a lot stronger and more mature,” Ryan said. “I think there is room for more progress from her and eventually she should be able to win in the city in the right race.
“She will have no trouble getting 1400 metres, she will run it on her ear.”
Christian Reith settled her in third place early then went to the lead in the straight to easily hold off the favourite Speed Princess and win by one and a half lengths.
Joe Pride believes he has a future stayer in Little Miss Brown after she had a tough run but still won the Go Electrical Three Year Old Maiden (1600m).
Jay Ford was forced to take off early on the filly and race up outside the leader after failing to find a position where he could slot in further back. Little Miss Brown continued to hold that position then kicked away in the straight to beat the James Cummings trained Camari.
“Jay is an amazing judge of how a horse is going so I was not too worried when he made that move,” Pride said.
“I use him a lot in barrier trials and he can tell me in 40 seconds what I have been trying to work out for months. “I regard him very highly. “This filly is tough and that was apparent with what she had to do to win the race.
“She is going to make a nice staying mare later on when she strengthens up and matures.”
Ford said he had not intended to be so far forward. “That wasn’t the plan but we were out wide and I could not find any cover so I had no alternative,” Ford said.
“There is a lot of upside to this filly, she is tough.”
The Paul Perry trained The Equalizer hinted at better things in store when he graduated from winning a Tamworth maiden at his previous start to coming from well back early to win the Gosford Air Class Two (1600m).
It was the Thomas Huet factor again at work with that win giving him a double after earlier winning aboard Mr Magpie for Bjorn Baker.
“We thought this race might have been a bit steep for him but he appreciated the fast tempo up front early and he was the horse with fresh legs late,” foreman, Shannon Perry, said. “The track has also opened up with this race and I think that helped.
“It is also nice to win a race for the Newton family, they are good supporters of our stable.”
Huet let The Equalizer find his legs back in sixth place early, then started his forward move at the 600 metres to circle the field and go on and win by three quarters of a length from Diambra (Brenton Avdulla).
Zigamore was a further head away third after missing the start then being hunted up to sit outside the leader Grande Castagno which weakened to finish fourth.