FIVE favourites and two second favourites greeted the judge on the eight-race Wyong card. Little wonder punters couldn’t hide their smiles and were quickly searching for the date of the next Wyong meeting (Thursday, May 11) as they left the track. Even the day’s longest priced winner Cappelletti at $7 had his admirers, so it was a blackout for bookmakers. Senior jockey Sam Clipperton and star apprentice Zac Lloyd rode doubles. Clipperton scored on favourites Silent Raindrops and Queenmaker (pictured), whilst Lloyd also did the right thing by favourite backers, getting home on Ruby Flyer and Shipshape. Jockeys Jason Collett and Keagan Latham were both charged with careless riding by Racing NSW stewards in the sixth race, but escaped with reprimands.
RACE 1 – HMA GROUP MAIDEN HANDICAP, 1200m:
PUNTERS were on the ball when well-backed favorite SILENT RAINDROPS ($2.30) was successful – but weren’t on good terms with themselves when she conceded her five rivals a decent start before rounding them up. Trainer Joe Pride said he thought the Sebring three-year-old, a $280,000 yearling purchase in Melbourne two years ago, would have won before now, and was understandably glad to see her break through at her fifth start and third this campaign. “She has been a work in progress, but is a nice style of filly and that win should give her plenty of confidence to go on with it,” he added. SILENT RAINDROPS was the best backed runner, ousting Gustisisimo (who eased from a shade of odds-on to $2.90), and left the two-year-old with no excuses. Gustisisimo trailed the two leaders and took over on straightening, but was no match for the winner. Parmenio ($4.80) raced up on the speed, but weakened and finished a distant third. Winning rider Sam Clipperton said SILENT RAINDROPS broke cleanly but took a while to get into her rhythm, hence why she settled a clear last in the small field.
RACE 2 – HMA INSTRUMENTATION PROVINCIAL 4YO&UP MAIDEN PLATE, 1350m:
THE market suggested a two-horse race was in the offing, but it turned out to be a one-act affair for odds-on favorite RUBY FLYER ($1.85). The Hawkesbury four-year-old settled in an awkward spot on the inside back past midfield, but star apprentice Zac Lloyd produced a pearler of a ride, securing a decent split on straightening – and it was all over. RUBY FLYER bolted away to score by a widening five and a half lengths from his main rival Twentyeightdragons ($3.40). The victory had special significance for husband and wife training partners Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard, as the former prepared the gelding’s dam Kellyville Flyer, and also her brother Sons Of John (2015 Hawkesbury Gold Cup winner) when training in his own right. Locally-trained Skybeam($18) was third and should appreciate further ground.
RACE 3 – HMA POWER GENERATION MAIDEN PLATE, 2100m:
IN a tricky finish, another favourite was successful, but it was oh so close. Tyler Schiller picked up a late ride from Chad Schofield, who was ill, on AUNT ROBERTA ($3.20), who nabbed Four O’Clock Rock ($4.80) in virtually the last bound. The Pierro filly was having her seventh start and followed up recent placings at Hawkesbury and Wyong by breaking through after beginning awkwardly. Connections thought enough of AUNT ROBERTA to start her in a Group 3 over 2000m at Caulfield last spring, and she should be able to measure up in better company now that she has broken through. The runner-up didn’t jump brilliantly either, but the winner came from behind him. Bonaventure ($5.50) had his supporters and finished third after having every chance.Octahedron (sixth at $7) pulled up 1/5 lame in the off hindleg, and stewards told trainer David Payne a veterinary clearance will be required before the gelding can either trial or race again.
RACE 4 – HMA MATERIALS HANDLING MAIDEN HANDICAP, 1600m:
TRAINER Bjorn Baker and jockey Brandon Lerena were pipped in the previous race, but not here. Lerena took any bad luck out of the equation on the well-named BOY LOVES TO RUN ($3.30), and he ran right up to his name. Lerena made the running on the three-year-old, and he never looked like losing at his 10th start, scoring comfortably from Doutelle($31) and Vegas on Fire ($6). The South African expat afterwards said his mount travelled comfortably throughout, and felt he had further upside. “The owners have been very patient, so they deserved to finally get a result,” said stable spokesman Glenn Lobb. While beaten easily, there was plenty of merit in the performance of runner-up Doutelle, who came from last at the 400m. This was only his second start, so connections should have plenty to look forward to with him. BOY LOVES TO RUN was the second favorite, but favorite Theoneandonly ($2.80) was never a possibility in finishing fourth.
RACE 5 – HMA FLOW & INDUSTRIAL MIDWAY CLASS 1 HANDICAP, 1600m:
HAWKESBURY trainer Edward Cummings warmed up for a tilt at Saturday’s Group 1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) in Adelaide with Arts by winning here with QUEENMAKER ($3 fav) – but he might not be the most popular with his trainer father Anthony. QUEENMAKER, a daughter of Tavistock, beat Cummings’ Snr’s horse Reginald ($4.40), and beat that horse decisively. Rider Sam Clipperton had QUEENMAKER away smartly and trailed front-runner Mayapple ($20) before taking over approaching the home turn. Her dominance was such that she had more than four lengths to spare at the post. “She has been a bridesmaid a few more times than I would have liked,” Ed Cummings said, referring to his mare’s six second placings in her career. “The form around her has been good for a race like this. “Hopefully we can do the same in Adelaide on Saturday, but Arts won’t be ridden the same way as QUEENMAKER.” Clipperton felt his mount was going well enough to be competitive in a suitable Sydney race in the near future. Both Reginald and third placegetter Acceber ($4.80) found the line well enough even though they were never a chance of overhauling the winner.
RACE 6 – HMA GEOTECHNICAL CLASS 1 HANDICAP, 1200m:
CAPPELLETTI was the longest priced winner of the day at $7, and continued his consistent form this preparation. He has now won twice and been placed twice since resuming as a gelding, and there’s no reason he can’t win again soon. “He has always shown good ability, and is starting to put it all together,” co-trainer Sterling Alexiou said. “They paid big money for him ($725,000 as an Easter yearling two years ago), and it’s good to see they are now getting some returns.” Runner-up Principessa ($4 fav) looks capable of scoring at her next start. She has been placed at 10 of her 13 starts (one solitary win) and was having her first start since November. Principessa hit the line with purpose and looks like she will handle further ground, and third placegetter Grand Crusader ($) also ran home strongly. Jockey Regan Bayliss said Surf On Turf ($4.60) started to weaken passing the 400m, and was disappointing in the manner it finished the race. A subsequent vet examination did not reveal any abnormalities.
RACE 7 – HMA WEAR SOLUTIONS BENCHMARK 64 HANDICAP, 1350m:
ZAC Lloyd was an odds-on favourite for the Jockeys’ Challenge before racing began, and everything was shipshape here. The young rider made it a double when the Godolphin colours saluted. Lloyd had SHIPSHAPE ($2.10) away smartly, dictated out in front and got a break on the point of home turn to leave his rivals chasing thin air. He scored easily from Nitride ($31), who finished gamely and the remarkable 12-year-old Isorich ($26) was third after being forced to race wide and running his heart out in the straight at his 155th start. Along with his 16 wins, he has also been placed on 37 occasions. “SHIPSHAPE is a very casual customer, hence the blinkers on him,” said stable spokesman Darren Beadman. Nitride was having his fourth start this campaign and is getting close to another win, whilst Kozluca ($26) finished determinedly and could pay to follow as he was resuming and can handle longer trips.
RACE 8 – HMA GTECH CYCLONES BENCHMARK 64 HANDICAP, 1000m:
GARRY Frazer made it a treble for Hawkesbury trainers when the well-backed TOCOMAH ($3.90) saluted. As much as $10 was bet about him, and he did a good job to score under his 61kg at his first start in six months. “He bolted in with a Gosford Maiden at his second start, but we had plenty of issues with him after that,” Frazer said. “Thankfully, he is now the soundest he has ever been. I was a little concerned beforehand that the 1000m might be a trifle short, and that’s why you put the top jockeys on (Kerrin McEvoy had the mount).” Frazer gave credit to TOCOMAH, who carried a big weight and found plenty in the closing stages. Laroupe ($3.80 favorite) was one of the biggest tips of the day on the strength of a couple of good recent trials, but didn’t help her chances by beginning awkwardly and making contact with the offside barrier partition. In the circumstances, her performance was excellent, but nothing can be taken away from the winner, who conceded her a tidy 4.5kg. Fire And Ice ($8) hit the line nicely at his first start since November, and trainer Mark Minervini should be able to place him to advantage this campaign.