Blake Spriggs believes flashy grey three-year-old Tap This ($8.50) will be a major player in the Queensland carnival following her impressive win in the 1200m Floratine Handicap.
The in-form jockey came from behind in the straight with a prolonged run to win the race by a nose from Deploy ($3.40) with race favourite and stablemate Maraam ($2.40) third.
The three-year-old Tapit filly is trained by Peter and Paul Snowden
“When I asked her for an effort she really put her foot down and beat them comfortably in the end,” Blake said.
“I had a good run through the race but they put the pressure on and to her credit she responded. She is all class. “
Paul Snowden said they have always had an opinion of the Waratah Thoroughbreds filly but had problems getting continuity in her preparations.
“She was a stop start filly. There were problems – she had a foot issue, a temperature and was always going out or coming back in and starting all over.
“Going forward we knew there is plenty of improvement in her and she was too good today.
“We always had her pencilled in to take up north and we will definitely take our time with her getting her up to a mile and a maybe a touch further.
“I’m really impressed with how she hit the line today. It was really good.”
Gai Waterhouse’s debutant Wilcannia ($11) proved too strong for her opposition in the opening race of the day, the 1000m Syngenta Maiden Handicap.
The stable considers the two-year-old could have a bright future following her narrow win over Catch A Wave ($18) with Onslaught ($8.50) third. The filly beat her more favoured stalemate Pub Grub by four lengths, with the race favourite Windcatcher seventh.
The three placegetters crossed the line together with Wilcannia, ridden by Thomas Huet, claiming the race by a nose, with a long neck between second and third.
Wilcannia, a two-year-old Snitzel filly jumped well and went to the front early in the race following the pattern of most Waterhouse trained gallopers. She refused to lie down in the straight and fought on strong to the line.
Stable foreman Chris Armstrong said Thomas rode the filly “exactly as Gai wanted it.”
“The French jockey rode her very well,” Thomas said. “Her trackwork has been very good and her trial form was strong. She will be a nice filly in the future.”
Thomas Huet said the filly got a bit lost early and still has a plenty to learn.
“She got lost a bit in stages but did the job well in the end so that’s good,” he said.
Well-named Sharkbite gelding Clear The Beach ($6.50) scored a smart win in the ICL (Scott’s) Maiden Plate (1100m) for John McNair and Christian Reith.
The three-year-old gelding has been in consistent form with two minor placings and a winning trial leading into the race. She had been turned out in great fashion by John McNair and finished the last 600m in the fast time of 33.06, beating the race favourite Not A Cherry ($3.20) by a half head with Costa Dorado ($16) almost three lengths behind in third.
Christian Reith said it was great to see the filly break through for a win. “She has always show promise but it was a big learning curve for her,” he said. “When I rode him at his first start he was a bit tardy away and the next start when he hit the front he gave ground a bit.
“John has taken him home and done a lot of work with him and he’s a different horse today.”
Greta publican Graham Payne was confident of the chances of his mare Annandale Lass ($8) going into the 1350m Turfcare NSW Benchmark 72 Handicap.
The five-year-old mare, raced in partnership by Graham, was ridden by apprentice James Innes.
Carrying only 51kg, she relished the light weight and scored a good front-running win beating Yattarna ($6.50) by a half head, with Think Aloud ($6.50) more than a length behind in third.
Graham said he always considered the 6kg weight drop from her last start would put her in good stead in the race.
“The other day at Taree the saddle slipped and she probably of have finished closer. She was always going to be in the lead today and the others were going to be chasing and that’s how it turned out,” he said.
“The young kid rides alright and he listens to you. It is a shame he doesn’t get rides off the other bloke.”
James Innes said the plan had been to get the front.
“I was three deep but let her roll and with the light weight she just did the rest,” James said.
A patient ride by Brenton Avdulla saw the Greg Hickman trained Top Striker ($5.20) take out the 1200m Benchmark 72 Bayer Handicap.
Greg was full of praise for Brenton after the four-year-old High Chapparal gelding beat Sampeah ($2.50) by a half head, with Way Too Good ($5.50) a further half head away in third.
Top Striker was poised behind the leader, Hugh Bowman on Way Too Good, and Brenton peeled off his back with about 50m to go and was too good for his opposition.
“He rode him super,” he said. “Brenton has come along leaps and bounds in the last 12 months and I just left it up to him on how to ride him and he worked it out 100 percent.”
Brenton said he had watched replays of Top Striker’s previous runs and decided he was a much better horse when he was on the rails and following.
“I had to ride him patiently and from where we were because looking at his films I thought he was a better horse when he’s got something to follow and he has run off the track a couple of times.
“It didn’t bother me being locked away. I just had to sit there and be patient and not try anything silly. When the run came through at the furlong he was able to put his head through and get the job done.”
Jason Deamer pulled off a good first up training performance with Bianconi mare Our Renaissance ($8. 50) to take out the Benchmark 85 1000m Turfcare Australia Handicap.
Ridden by Tim Clark, the five-year-old was returning from a spell after being sidelined for three months following a bleeding attack.
The well-supported Our Renaissance battled out the finish with Plateau Gold ($13), finally winning by half a length with the fast finishing Gamblestown ($3.80) third. Jason said he had been quietly confident but concerned about the step up in grade.
“I was a bit confident but it was a hard race. She was a bit out of her grade but there were no other races around for her,” he said.
“She was down in the weights and Tim rode her a treat. I thought with Quell in the race there would be plenty of speed and that’s how it worked out. She was nice and relaxed behind them and hit the line well.
“They are a great group of owners and she has been a very honest mare since they brought her from Melbourne. This city win will boost her value later on.”
Tim Clark said the early speed had enabled him to get into a good spot and the mare travelled up lovely.
“She probably got a bit tired the last bit but toughed it out really well. She’s a nice mare who has been really consistent throughout her career and she deserved that,” he said.
The Chris Waller/Hugh Bowman combination had to wait until the last to bring up a win, with race favourite Liberty Island ($2.80) taking out the 1600m Eon Bio Benchmark 67 Handicap.
The well supported Statue Of Liberty gelding scored a strong win courtesy of a great ride by the champion jockey.
Stable foreman Charlie Duckworth described it as a “brilliant ride.”
“He saved a lot of ground with the big weight and that helped. It was a long overdue win.
“Owners Frank and Chris Cook are happy because this is their home track.”
The four-year-old gelding brought up his third career starts beating Morello ($4.40) by a length with Slade Amigos ($18) a half length behind in third.
Hugh Bowman said Liberty Island had been racing well and deserved the win.
“I had to wait for Blake (Slade Amigos) to make a decision before I could. I knew I had plenty of horse but I made the same move earlier in the day and it didn’t quite come off,” he said.
“You do need a little bit of luck around this track with the tight turning circuit and I got it today.”