Ashley Morgan took out the riding honours with a double, but it was Brenton Avdulla who stole the show with a memorable ride on Speak Up in the 1300m Maiden.
In a busy day for stewards, there were two protests, both dismissed, while the judge couldn’t split Pharoah’s Reign and Capital Asset in the 1350m BM68, declaring a dead heat.
Kristen Buchanan trained a winner for the locals, with Street Candi continuing her great home track form with another win. Catch up on all the highlights here.
Race 1 – INSURANCE HOUSE CLASS 1 (1600m):
A popular home track win in the first, with the Kristen Buchanan trained Street Candi ($6.50) upsetting the more favoured runners to post an impressive victory.
The Pride Of Dubai mare has now won both her two starts on the Wyong track, having posted a string of placings before her maiden win over the 1600m on January 23.
She was coming off a fifth at Newcastle on February 4 where she was beaten just over a length.
Buchanan described the four-year-old as “super genuine.”
“She tries very, very hard but can work against you if try to restrain her too much. It was an outstanding ride by Ash (Morgan) today,” she said.
“He rode her a treat last start and has figured her out. I thought she might be way too hot today, but she’s matured and grown up a lot.”
There were few excuses for the beaten brigade, with the $2.10 favourite, John O’Shea’s Condrieulaying out on the turn and dropping out in the straight to finish fifth. Jockey Reece Jones telling stewards she was disappointing in her failure to finish off the race.
Runner up, Silvakia ($6.50) from the Newnham yard, fought on well, while Maralago ($4.20) trained by Anthony Cummings was third.
Race 2 – AMTOTE CG&E MAIDEN (1100m):
Adam Duggan was full of praise for his Written Tycoon gelding Restrictions after the five-year-old made short work of his opponents in his first Australian start.
The former Hong Kong galloper caught the eye of Duggan when he first spotted him in the paddock, and he is confident he will live up to his expectations.
“It’s a relief to get the win,” Duggan said. “I put my cash forward to get him. He showed a lot of promise and got the job done today.”
Dylan Gibbons rated Restrictions perfectly in front and was able to hold out the late challengers to win by a length.
Duggan believes he can improve more ridden quieter.
“He shows a lot of speed, but I still don’t think that’s the way to ride him. I think he’ll be even better with a sit. I thought the second horse had him cold at the furlong, but he had good upside and was strong late. I really think he’s got a good future.”
Restrictions earned strong support to start $4.60. It had been 12 months between his last Hong Kong run, with a trial at Gosford on January 24.
The Neasham trained Chartwell ($4) was second, with Grand Crusader ($2.10fav) third and appearing to have every chance.
Race 3 – MECHPRO SOLUTIONS AU F&M MAIDEN (1100m):
John Thompson’s filly Zarinya ($11) broke through for her first win, but it could have been a different story if the short priced favourite Eagle Nest had got a run in the straight.
Chad Schofield, aboard the $2 favourite, found himself behind a wall of horses on straightening and when he did find clear running, the Ryan/Alexiou filly looked flat footed for a stride or two before speeding home to finish a close second.
All credit to the winner Zarinya who was angled off the rails in the straight and ridden hard to the line by Brock Ryan.
Anne-Maree Mulligan, representing the Thompson stable, said they had changed the filly’s gear leading into the race, which seemed to make the difference.
“We put blinkers on today and they really helped. Brock put in a good ride too. We’ve tinkered with her gear a little bit and, it’s worked. She will get plenty of confidence out of that.”
A $50,000 yearling, Zarinya was having her fifth career start. Peter Robl’s Sky Artist ($7.50) was third, with Eagle Nest the one to follow.
Race 4 – LINCOLN ELECTRIC MAIDEN (1300m):
The superlatives were flowing freely for Brenton Avdulla who lived up to his nickname with a gun ride on the O’Shea trained filly Speak Up.
Avdulla was able to cross to the fence from barrier eight and pinch ground along the rails, trailing Tim Clark on the Cummings trained Moonflower ($6.50).
He waited patiently when held up in the straight before weaving a passage through to snatch victory on the line.
Tom Charlton from the O’Shea stable was complimentary of the ride.
“He’s seeing them well at the moment Brenton. He’s a good man and he’s always ridden well for John, all class.”
Charlton said Speak Up, a $220,000 Magic Millions yearling raced in partnership by Frank and Christine Cook, had been a work in progress but would take plenty of confidence from the win.
Moonflower was the runner-up and not far off a win, with the Nathan Doyle trained Ambassadors ($9) finishing off strongly in third.
Race 5 – SITE INNOVATION PROVINCIAL MAIDEN (1600m):
It was an easy watch for favourite backers with the result never in doubt for the well supported Owari($1.45) trained by Brad Widdup.
Brett Prebble partnered the Astern three-year-old, in his only ride for the day, and was able to dictate terms up front.
He had pressure from Ashley Morgan on the Doyle trained Higher Hand ($7.50) mid-race but was able to find another gear and speed away in the straight to win by more than two lengths.
“He won as his price suggested and was too good for them,” stable representative Andre Rabbett said. “Brett rode him with confidence knowing he was likely the best horse in the race. The horse is still really learning and there is plenty of improvement to come.”
Prebble agreed saying Owari would keep ‘getting bigger and stronger and would run for days.’
Kim Waugh’s Piccadilly Lass ($15) isn’t far off breaking through finishing second, with High Hand third.
Race 6 – KINCROME BM64 HANDICAP (1000m):
Speedy Flying Artie mare Miss Violet ($3.90fav) made the step up to Provincial class in a sentimental victory for her owners.
The four-year-old, who made it three wins from eight starts, is part-owned by Gary Johnson.
Trainer Mark Minervini said Johnson named the mare after his granddaughter Violet.
“It’s her birthday today so it was meant to be,” he said. “I wasn’t totally convinced she was up to Provincial class just yet but when we saw the field and the barrier, I thought she’d be right in it.
“They took her on early, it was pretty willing, but she was tough to the line. Ashley (Morgan) suggested we put the blinkers on her, and I think she found another length or two. I’m proud of her today.”
The win brought up a double for Morgan, who had to ride hard to the line to hold out the fast-finishing Amazing Nicci ($17) from the Portelli yard.
Mark Newnham’s Crystalane ($4.60) was a close third, with less than half a length separating the three.
Winning connections had a few anxious moments after Alysha Collett fired in a protest against the winner alleging interference approaching the 100m, which was dismissed with the both riders told to exercise more care when shifting ground.
Race 7 – 4.50pm: MACK CONDITIONAL BM68 (1350m):
The judge couldn’t split Pharoah’s Reign ($10) or Capital Asset ($5.50) who hit the line together in a dead heat, with the Freedman and Snowden father and son partnerships sharing the spoils.
Richard and Will Freedman’s American Pharoah mare Pharoah’s Reign brought up her fourth career win, ridden by Rachel King, while Snowden’s three-year-old gelding Capital Asset scored his second win at start eight, with Regan Bayliss in the saddle.
In the second protest of the afternoon, Bayliss claimed interference in the last 50m by King but following a lengthy deliberation stewards dismissed the protest.
Soloist ($26) trained by Clare Lever was third, beaten less than a long neck.
Race 8 – INFRABUILD MIDWAY CLASS 1 (1200m):
Another Wyong specialist greeted the judge with Galactic Angel ($11) bringing up her second win on the track.
The Zoustar mare, a $360,000 Inglis yearling trained by Anthony Cummings, was given a great front running ride by in-form apprentice Tyler Schiller.
She brought up her first career win at Wyong in December last year and was then placed third there prior to her latest victory.
“She does seem to like it here,” Brock Walker, representing the stable said.
“She’s been going good this preparation. Tyler rated her very well today, got her to switch off and she got home very nicely.”
The locally trained Skye Banner ($10) from the Partelle yard put in a strong performance to finish second after jumping awkwardly, while Peter Robl had to settle for another third with his $2.90 favourite Hasten Delight.
Brock Walker GA – won here 3 starts back. Sagy outside lead and put away nicely, Same tactics today, jumpu and do the same today.