Minervini’s birthday win

Minervini's birthday win 1

MARK Minervini rued he could have had an even bigger celebration had a storm not cost him the chance to clinch a Wyong double today.

Whilst the Newcastle trainer was naturally delighted to win a race on his birthday – for the second time in three years – with Smiling Prophet ($8.50) in the NO EXCUSE FOR ABUSE F&M BENCHMARK 64 HANDICAP (1100m), he didn’t get the chance to also win the DIMENSION ONE GLASS FENCING CG&E BENCHMARK 64 HANDICAP (1100m) with Soobooco.

RacingNSW stewards called off the last two races due to ongoing storm activity, with lightning present and no imminent signs of improvement in the conditions. 

“It was bad luck because Soobooco has started twice previously at Wyong for a win and a second,” Minervini said.

“He likes soft ground, and there was enough give in the trackafter the storm hit to suit him.

“I thought he was the better chance of my two runners.”

Minervini’s success with Smiling Prophet rekindled a successful association with the mare’s jockey Kerrin McEvoy. Both are expatriate South Australians, and the trainer recalled McEvoy winning a race for him on John’s Brother ($7) in an Open Handicap (1050m) at Morphettville on April 20, 2002.

McEvoy went even further back. “Minners put me on a horse at Morphettville when I was a kid and apprenticed to Russell Cameron on loan,” he said.

“I’ve had a few rides for Mark without getting the money since he relocated to New South Wales, so it was good to get that win for him on his birthday.

“The mare did a good job after being a bit steady into stride.”

Minervini also won a race with Quick Tempo (a 1000m Benchmark 66 Handicap) at Taree on his birthday two years ago.

He paid $35,000 for Smiling Prophet at the 2021 Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association yearling sale, and the now four-year-old mare has more than recouped her purchase price.

Today’s win was her third, following earlier victories at Newcastle and Scone, and she has earned nearly $100,000 (including a BOBS bonus).

“Smiling Prophet is built like a quarter horse, but is a really good mare on her day,” Minervini said.

“She has been a little bit in and out, but appreciated the fast pace up front and it was good to see her do it.”

Fancied pair Chilli Filly ($2 favorite) and Flying Rani ($3) took each other on in front, and were sitting shots in the straight.

After being last settling down on Smiling Prophet, McEvoy saved ground near the inside before switching her around the three horses in front after straightening.

Just as runner-up Maz Kanata ($8) burst through on the inside and was being hailed the winner, Smiling Prophet swooped and won convincingly.

Punters had crashed in the first three races when the favoritesall bit the dust.

Newcastle three-year-old Uncle Harry ($1.80) was never a winning factor when third in the MERCURE KOOINDAH WATERS CLASS 1/MAIDEN PLATE (2100m).

Gun apprentice Dylan Gibbons, who won the recent Four Pillars at Rosehill Gardens for Sydney trainer David Payne, again produced the goods to score on $13 chance Mist Of Battle.

Payne had wanted Mist Of Battle to be ridden more forward, and Gibbons did exactly that and produced a comprehensive victory over Shemran ($7.50).

Things didn’t go Uncle Harry’s way, and he didn’t get into the clear until it was too late, so his third placing should be forgiven.

Coincidentally, Mist Of Battle also started at $13 in his only previous win – in a Gosford Maiden (1900m) 12 months ago, when Gibbons also had the mount.

Locally-trained Red Cobra ($2.80 favorite) couldn’t reproduce his home track breakthrough on November 11, and both he and second favorite Avonview ($3.20) never got into the picture in the STOP ABUSE AT THE START MIDWAY CLASS 1 HANDICAP (1600m), finishing seventh and fifth respectively.

Jockey Jay Ford “stole” the race, getting his own way out in front on Kembla Grange mare Justela ($8), who easily defeated Really Motivated ($14) and Flying Step ($7.50).

The first three placegetters raced in those positions virtually throughout, so it was little wonder backmarkers weren’t able to make their presence felt.

Winning trainer Kerry Parker said the plan was to quicken from the 600m, but Ford was able to control the race and everything worked out well.

“Justela has been going well but her last couple of runs were in slowly run races and she wasn’t able to outsprint them,” he said.

Purchased online in September last year as an unraced early four-year-old for only $1250, Justela has won two races under Parker’s care and earned nearly $58,000.

Racing’s unkindest cut of all seemingly has done the trick for Vomo Island, who broke through in the 1800 RESPECT SUPER 3YO MAIDEN PLATE (1200m).

Returning as a gelding, he justified his $1.70 favorite quote by defeating Mathkhoora ($4.40) and One Last Shot ($6.50).

“The stallion dream is over,” said Snowden Racing’s Colum McCullagh. “He is a racehorse now, and looks a lot more genuine.

“Vomo Island had trialled up pretty well, and we were pretty confident he could win his first race.”

Kerrin McEvoy, who won the previous race on Smiling Prophet, said he had hoped to settle closer on Vomo Island, going on how he had shaped in his recent trials.

“His best work was the last part of the race, and I’m sure he is open to going a bit further in distance,” he added.

A son of Dundeel, Vomo Island had raced five times as a colt for four placings. His sole unplaced run was when unplaced in the Group 3 Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens in early September, after which he was gelded.

Trainer Jarrod Austin says the best is yet to come from Look At Moi Kim ($3.30 favorite) in the CONGRATULATIONS TEAM WYONG EQUIMILLIONS 4YO & UP MAIDEN HANDICAP (1350m).

“She has always shown some ability, and there’s a fair bit more to come,” Austin said after the daughter of Smart Missile broke through at her sixth start, relegating Princess Thalia ($4.60) and Meerut ($3.40) into the minor placings in a close finish.

“Look At Moi Kim wobbled around at her first two runs back at Kembla Grange and wasn’t beaten all that far, and then ran off the track at Bathurst when runner-up.

“Once she has filled out and matured, I feel she will be a very nice horse in 12 months’ time.”

Stewards dismissed a protest lodged by Princess Thalia’s rider Jason Collett against the winner, alleging interference over the concluding stages.

Third placegetter Meerut was game after being forced to race wide throughout, and deserves a change of luck.

There was no more impressive winner than Bojangles in the WELCOME KINGSTON INGLIS PROVINCIAL MAIDENPLATE (1100m); the last race run before the storm arrived.

The lightly-raced three-year-old, prepared locally by Kim Waugh, was having only his third start and first since July, and justified his short quote ($1.40 favorite).

Held up for clear running rounding the home turn, Bojangles sprinted quickly once Tommy Berry got him into the clear and his win was “soft” at the end over another local, Damien Lane’s All Too Zatso ($11), who also was held up for clear running at a similar stage, and Rum Diary ($4.80).

“He is only a little fella, and we tipped him out after his first two runs,” Waugh said. “He had a setback after one nice trial (third on the Beaumont track on October 24), but had a jumpout last week and showed he was back on track.”

There was extra significance for Waugh getting Bojangles’ maiden victory out of the way. He is a son of her former good mare Hetty Heights, who won a heat of the Provincial Championships at home in 2016 and was black type placed.

“Bojangles has a very similar personality to Hetty Heights, and I’m sure he will end up as good as her,” she said.

lane on the lookout for rain

lane on the lookout for rain 2
Damien Lane is looking towards the heavens to enhance the chances of one of his four runners at Wyong on Wednesday. 
Lane’s four-year-old mare Really Motivated runs her best races on rain affected tracks and he is banking on the predicted showers eventuating. 
“She’s been crying out for a wet track and I’m hoping we can get it at Wyong,” he said. 
“She’s been a bit frustrating to be honest. She was really good first up at Narromine but only fair second up at Kembla. Out to the mile and with the sting out of the ground we should see her best.”
Really Motivated and stablemate Red Cobra line up in the 1600m Midway Class 1 and will be ridden by Reece Jones and Lane’s stable apprentice Anna Roper, respectively.
Lane is also confident of the chances of last start winner Red Cobra, who broke through over the mile at Wyong. 
“He’s been very consistent and trained on well since his win. Obviously, he suits Wyong and won’t be worried by a soft track.” 
Jason Collett partners three-year-old All Too Zatso in the 1100m Provincial Maiden Plate. 
Lane said the All Too Hard filly hadn’t lived up to his early expectations but there had been excuses. 
“She really showed us good ability at home but was going too hard and wanting to overdo it in her early races. We changed tactics and rode her quieter at Wyong last start, and she came home strongly to finish third. It was a great run and she’s been doing well since. 
“She races well over this distance, and we will look to ride her the same way.”
Lane has tweaked the gear on his fourth starter, La Pelago and believes it should make a difference. 
Anna Roper is engaged for the Star Turn filly in the 1200m 3YO Super Maiden 
“She went really good at Wellington when she resumed from a spell and finished a close second over the 1200m. 
“Last start at Gosford she got her tongue over the bit, so I’ve applied a tongue tie. Hopefully we will see a more improved run. The prizemoney is so good in these races it’s worth having a shot. Depending on how she goes we will look for a race up the bush next start.”
Lane has been enjoying one of his better starts to the season, with 12 winners to date and currently leads the Wyong Trainers Premiership. 
“I don’t worry about statistics too much, but it’s been a good start and would be good to add to that on the home track.”
The first of eight races gets underway at 1.25pm.
 Race 1 – 1:25PM MERCURE KOOINDAH WATERS CLASS 1 & MAIDEN (2100m): 1 SHERMAN, 2 Rapid Impact, 3 Lunar Rising, 4 Uncle Harry.
Race 2 – 2:00PM STOP ABUSE AT THE START MIDWAY CLASS 1 (1600m): 1RED COBRA, 2 Acceber, 3 Avonview, 4 Sweet Dixie.
Race 3 – 2:35PM NO EXCUSE FOR ABUSE F&M BENCHMARK 64 (1100m): 1 CHILLI FILLY, 2 Flying Rani, 3 Smilng Prophet, 4 Mosht Up.
Race 4 – 3:10PM 1800 RESPECT SUPER 3YO MAIDEN (1200m): 1 VOMO ISLAND, 2 Here Comes Hogan, 3 Chief Witness, 4 All Too Zatzo. 
Race 6 – 4:20PM WELCOME KINGSTON INGLIS PROVINCIAL MAIDEN (1100m): 1 FRUITING HABIT, 2 La Pelago, 3 Bojangles, 4 Sidenay.
Race 7 – 4:55PM DIMENSION ONE GLASS FENCING CG&E BENCHMARK 64 (1100m): 1 STENSON WALLMAN, 2 Soobooco, 3 London, 4 Critical Time.
Race 8 – 5:30PM WYONG’S NEXT RACE MEETING WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 13 – MAGIC MILLIONS WYONG BENCHMARK 64 (1350m): 1 KADALL, 2 World Alliance, 3 Calmer Karma, 4 Takara Star. 



TALENTED Wyong apprentice Anna Roper will always remember her maiden home track success. 

The 21-year-old rode the 82nd winner of her blossoming career, not only on her master Damien Lane’s horse Red Cobra, but also in front of a special cheer squad. 

Riding to a plan devised beforehand on the backmarker, Roper got going early to clinch the gelding’s first win in the 1600m FREEMASONS ON THE CENTRAL COAST PROVINCIAL MAIDEN HANDICAP.

At his 14th start and following six minor placings, the Sebring four-year-old broke through after sustaining a determined run from the 700m.

“Anna hadn’t previously ridden a winner at Wyong, and said it was better than winning her first race in town (Lady Redwood at Warwick Farm early last month),” a delighted Lane said.


“She had family at the track to watch her, including her grandparents and a relative visiting from Canada.

“Anna rides Red Cobra work every morning, and really likes him, so it was a pretty special moment for her all round.”

Roper, who rode 42 winners in just under the first four months of last season until an after-race accident at Muswellbrook a year ago sidelined her for seven months, has hit the ground running since resuming her career.

She has ridden 25 winners (equal with Newcastle’s Dylan Gibbons) since August 1, and is only a half-win behind Zac Wadick in the NSW apprentices’ premiership.

A $30,000 yearling purchase, Red Cobra has overcome issues and is now starting to realise his earlier potential.

The manner of his performance suggests this first win won’t be his last.

Red Cobra was too strong over the closing stages for a gallant favorite Razella, who would have given her Hawkesbury trainer Steve O’Halloran the biggest day of his training career had she held out the local.


O’Halloran scored at Goulburn with Feel The Magic, and made it a double when Jaex took the RENTOKIL INITIAL SUPER MAIDEN PLATE (1300m).

The four-year-old daughter of Exosphere joined O’Halloran’s team earlier this year and was placed at her first three starts for him before shedding her maiden status with a win which never really looked in doubt once she took up the running.

Jaex beat local Aix En Provence, who ran on well, and heavily backed favorite Major Look, whose rider Keagan Latham afterwards told RacingNSW stewards the colt was making an abnormal respiratory noise throughout the race.

Whilst a post-race examination did not reveal anything, a veterinary clearance will need to be produced before Major Look can trial or race again.

Lane and The Big Dance winning trainer Sara Ryan kept the Wyong flag flying high with victories at one of the club’s few Saturday meetings of the racing year.

Ryan followed her $2m Big Dance triumph at Royal Randwick last Tuesday with Attractable by taking the opener, the GOSFORD MASONIC CENTRE BENCHMARK 64 HANDICAP (1600m) with Vegas Outlaw (Grant Buckley).

A lightly-raced seven-year-old who is thriving under Ryan’s care, Vegas Outlaw left his rivals with no excuses. He steamrolled his opposition, clearing out in the last 150m to score by nearly five lengths.

Vegas Outlaw has started only 12 times, and has now won two in a row, following on from an easy Provincial Class 1 Handicap (1600m) success at Kembla Grange late last month.


Three-year-old filly Prima Bella (Ash Morgan) got her career off to the best possible start when she won the GARY TURNER MEMORIAL – ABBEY TIMBER 3YO MAIDEN HANDICAP (1000m).

The Per Incanto filly quickly mustered speed to take up the running, gave a good kick in the straight and held on gamely over the concluding stages.

Damien Lane’s All Too Hard filly All Too Zatso came from last at the 600m to gain her first placing from only four starts.

Jockey Deanne Panya pleaded guilty to a careless riding charge on Winning Run (last of eight starters) in this race, and was suspended from November 20 until 25, on which day she can resume riding.

Alysha Collett notched a double on Eau De Vie (PETER MAC’S SERVICE CENTRE CLASS 1 HANDICAP, 1350m) and One Destiny (WIDELINE WINDOWS & DOORS BENCHMARK 64 HANDICAP, 1100m).

Collett took full advantage of Eau De Vie’s inside draw to give her the run of the race, and she moved up menacingly to join the tearaway leader Chesteray on the home turn.

After hitting the front on straightening, she responded gamely to hold out runner-up Emmadella’s late thrust.

One Destiny completed a successful day for his trainer Gary Nickson by running his rivals off their legs to post his fourth victory.

He never looked seriously threatened at his second run back and coming off a first-up fourth in town on the Kensington track.

Nickson also scored at Rosehill Gardens with Felix Majestic, who has now won three of his last four outings.

Critical Time was resuming for trainer Blake Ryan, and his strong finish into second placing behind One Destiny showed he is close to another win.

Only four horses contested the WYONG LEAGUES GROUP – THE ROOS FOUNDATION MIDWAY HANDICAP (1200m), but it developed into a thrilling two-horse contest.

Favorite Deceive (Keagan Latham) was seriously challenged by Struff (Andrew Calder) in the straight and it was a battle right to the line, with the former just nudging out her game rival.

Deceive did not help her chances by laying out from the 500m and also in the home straight, and stewards delayed posting correct weight to view the patrol films before deciding there were insufficient grounds to lodge a protest on behalf of the runner-up.

Lees unsure with shuri

Lees unsure with shuri 7

THERE is arguably no more interesting acceptor than Shuri for Saturday’s Wyong meeting – but trainer Kris Lees is holding off confirming a start.

The leading Newcastle trainer is tossing up whether to run the impressive Taree debut winner in the Gosford Masonic Centre Benchmark 64 Handicap (1600m) for her first provincial appearance, or stay in the country for a Benchmark 58 Handicap over the same distance at Scone on Monday.

Andrew Gibbons has been booked for Wyong if Shuri goes there, and his apprentice son Dylan goes aboard if she runs at Scone.

Shuri has 56kg (1kg over the limit) at Wyong, but 60kg staying in a country race if Scone gets the nod.

The beautifully-bred four-year-old mare, a daughter of Japanese stallion Satono Aladdin and New Zealand mare Phoenix Tycoon, didn’t begin racing until October 20 when she outclassed her rivals in a 1400m Maiden by four and a half lengths.

“She beat nothing that day but did it well all the same,” Lees said from Melbourne this afternoon.

“I would expect she can hold her form whichever race she runs in.

“We haven’t made a decision yet where she will go.”

Dylan Gibbons went to Taree to partner Shuri on debut, but has Rosehill Gardens bookings on Saturday, including Regal Lion in the $2m Five Diamonds (1800m).

Lees has two Wyong acceptors, and irrespective of what decision he makes with Shuri, will definitely start Bellascent (Andrew Gibbons) in the Freemasons On The Central Coast Provincial Maiden Handicap (1600m).

He regards the three-year-old filly as a place chance after a nice debut fifth in a Newcastle Provincial Maiden (1300m) against her own age on October 17.

Whilst Lees is uncertain about a target for Shuri, Wyong trainer Damien Lane has confirmed Red Cobra will dodge a 1600m Maiden Handicap at Scone to line up at home in the same race as Bellascent.

Lane’s talented apprentice Anna Roper will claim 3kg, bringing Red Cobra in with 2.5kg under the limit at 53.5kg.

The Sebring four-year-old deserves a change of luck after finishing second (Wyong 1350m), Newcastle 1600m and Grafton 1720m) at his last three starts.

“Red Cobra is racing well and looks to be the best of my chances,” Lane said.

“The only negative might be that he is a get back horse, and thus isn’t necessarily best suited at Wyong.

“But we’re staying at home with him on Saturday, and hopefully we can get a breakthrough.”

Stablemate Zedari (Rentokil Initial Super Maiden Plate, 1300m) won’t run as he is heading to Kempsey for the Cup meeting tomorrow, and Lane says it’s 50-50 whether another of his Wyong acceptors contests the same race or also goes to Kempsey.

Trainers Blake Ryan and Richard Collett have made decisions about their respective dual acceptors Critical Time and Struff.

Critical Time (Christian Reith) will start in the Wideline Windows & Doors Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m) rather than the Wyong Leagues Group – The Roos Foundation Midway Class 1 Handicap (1200m), and Ryan has opted to run him minus visors.

Struff (Andrew Calder) contets the race Critical Time has been withdrawn from, and bypasses the Peter Mac’s Service Centre Class 1 Handicap (1350m).

A lightly-raced daughter of Winning Rupert, Struff hasn’t missed a placing in five starts to date.

She finally shed her maiden status at her last run, in a 1300m Maiden at Hawkesbury on October 19.

. The rail is in the TRUE position, and racing gets underway at 1.20pm.

SELECTIONS: RACE 1 – 1.20pm: GOSFORD MASONIC CENTRE BENCHMARK 64 HCP, 1600m: 1 SHURI, 2 Oakfield Twilight, 3 Vegas Outlaw, 4 Statesville. 

RACE 2 – 1.55pm: GARY TURNER MEMORIAL – ABBEY TIMBER 3YO MAIDEN HCP, 1000m: 1 PRIMA BELLA, 2 Winning Run, 3 Angel Of Spring, 4 Slush Fund. 

RACE 3 – 2.35pm: WYONG LEAGUES CLUB GROUP – THE ROOS FOUNDATION MINDWAY CLASS 1 HCP, 1200m: 1 DECEIVE, 2 Struff, 3 Parisian Rose, 4 Estephania.

RACE 4 – 3.15pm: PETER MAC’S SERVICE CENTRE CLASS 1 HANDICAP, 1350m: 1 EAU DE VIE, 2 Imran, 3 Always In, 4 Happy Saturday.

RACE 5 – 3.55pm: FREEMASONS ON THE CENTRAL COAST MAIDEN HCP, 1600m: 1 RED COBRA, 2 Seasons Of Mist, 3 Bellascent, 4 Razella. 

RACE 6 – 4.35pm: RENTOKIL INITIAL SUPER MAIDEN PLATE, 1300m: 1 JAEX, 2 Aix En Provence, 3 Prairie Legend, 4 Major Look.

RACE 7 – 5.06pm: WIDELINE WINDOWS & DOORS BENCHMARK 64 HCP, 1100m: 1 IRON HAT, 2 One Destiny, 3 One Kind, 4 Pad Thai.