An emotional win for Samantha Clenton who cemented her comeback after serious injury taking out the $150,000 POLYTRAK PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER on Turnberry.
Clenton was the State’s leading apprentice when she was injured in a fall at Taree in October 2016 suffering serious spinal damage.
Doctors told Clenton she was fortunate not to be in a wheelchair, but it didn’t deter her drive to return to the saddle.
She spent more than two years on the sidelines recovering and giving birth to her now 16-month-old son Isaac.
Clenton made a comeback to riding only two weeks ago at Scone, the Qualifier win being her third victory from just nine rides.
“It feels wonderful,” an emotional Clenton said.
“I can’t thank Kris enough for his support. It is so good to be back and to win this race today.”
Clenton is apprenticed to Lees, who listened to the race from Dubai where he was waiting an appearance later in the day by Brave Smash in the rich Al Quoz Sprint.
“Kris was on the phone, but I told him I thought Turnberry was gone mid-race,” stable foreman Mal Ollerton said.
“The other runners had got to him and I thought they would just go past but he fought on.”
Turnberry ($7.50), who sat three wide without cover for most of the race, appeared to be headed in the straight but fought on to score a narrow win over the fast finishing Bobbing ($4.20). Bangkok ($18) trained locally by Allan Denham, was a close third.
Ollerton said Lees had told Clenton she would have to ride the horse “ugly” after he drew wide.
“She was stuck three-wide, but we thought that might happen. Kris said ride him like he’s in a 1600m race.
“He’s just a tough, tough horse and he proved that today.
“They’ll know he’s in the final in a fortnight,” Ollerton said.
Turnberry, a $250,000 yearling purchase, brought up his seventh win from 19 starts, including a last start Randwick victory over 1500m on January 12.
The win gave Lees his third runner in the $500,000 final, after Evalina and Chalmers qualified in an earlier race.
With Bangkok’s third placing Wyong trainers now have six representatives in the April 13 final, Safado and Spring Charlie from the Kim Waugh stable, Damien Lane’s duo Oakfield Missile and Oakfield Twilight and the Tracey Bartley trained Miss Redoble.
Kim Waugh looks to have two promising two-year-olds in the stable after Erno ($8.50) and Trajection ($61) outclassed their rivals in the LAKES PODIATRY 2YO MAIDEN.
A large group of excited owners celebrated the Waugh quinella with Rubick gelding Erno scoring a length victory over his stablemate, a Smart Missile filly syndicated by Darby Racing.
Waugh said she had been unable to split the two horses leading into the race.
“They do everything together, so it’s great they went so well. They are stabled side by side, they work together, gallop together, kind of like girlfriend and boyfriend. It’s hilarious,” she laughed.
Serg Lisnyy found the lead on Erno early in the race and Travis Wolfgram settled Trajection just behind him. They stayed that way throughout the running, fighting out the finish, with Maisaa ($8.50) from the Snowden stable, more than two lengths behind in third.
Waugh said there wasn’t much between the two horses but thought Erno may have been a “little bit sharper.”
“He’s a lovely horse. He trialled really well, and she did too.
“He drew a really tricky barrier. I told Serg to just jump out and be positive and work out if he could get in somewhere in the first 100m. He did that and got across.
“The other filly she travelled beautifully, there’s not much between the two but the price difference was huge.
“I was very proud of both of them. You put a lot of work in them to educate them well and to do that first start on a heavy track it’s a great effort.
“Today was just about running them and seeing how they get through the race. They are both really nice.”
Lexi’s Choice was rewarded for her consistency with a breakthrough win in the SERVERS AUSTRALIA MAIDEN over 1350m.
The three-year-old filly, trained at Hawkesbury by Scott Singleton, was sent out $2.70 favourite on the back of two recent fourth placings at Orange and Kembla Grange.
She had to survive a protest from the second placed Well Decorated, before notching up her first victory at her eighth career start.
“She’s been knocking on the door to do something in her past few starts and with the wet track today it helped her,” Singleton said.
“She hasn’t raced on a heavy track before but jarred up a bit on the firm tracks last preparation. She had a little let up and its nice and wet for her now so hopefully she can go on with it.”
Singleton said he expected the Choistar filly would get further this preparation.
Apprentice Brandon Griffiths has partnered Lexi’s Choice at her last two starts and in track gallops leading up to the race.
He settled her toward the rear of the small field, hitting the front half way down the straight and holding out her rivals to win by half a length.
The Michael Plummer trained Well Decorated ($3.80) was second, with Charged Flame ($3.50) from the Waterhouse Bott stable third.
Scott Singleton will target the Orange Cup with Itasca ($15) after his strong win in the LAKE MACQUARIE SHEET METAL CLASS 2 HANDICAP over 1600m.
The Tickets five-year-old returned to the winner’s circle with a length victory over Soldier Of Love ($3.30), with Miss Moana ($7), a length and a half behind in third.
The win gave Singleton a winning double and cause to praise the Wyong track.
“I always have a bit of luck here,” he said. “I’ll have to come back more often.
“We haven’t been having the best run of late. We just needed some luck so it’s great to get a double.”
Singleton said Itasca had been disappointing at his last start when he was narrowly beaten over 2000m at Queanbeyan.
“He just threw it away that day. I’ve put the blinkers back on him and that switched him on a bit today,” he said.
“He’s very consistent. I wanted to run him in the Orange Cup, so I needed to run him over the mile here today.
“This was just an in between race for him. He hasn’t been beaten far in the provincials in a lot stronger races than this. He’s probably a little bit ingenuine but hopefully we can bring the best out in him.”
Itasca, ridden by Jess Taylor, has now had three wins, and six minor placings from 25 starts.
Brad Widdup will consider a trip to Brisbane’s winter carnival with his filly Lily Astolat ($4.80) after her tough win in the 1600m HALEKULANI BOWLING CLUB MAIDEN.
Ridden by Koby Jennings, the three-year-old snatched a narrow victory in an exciting four-way finish.
Widdup said he would rule out a trip to Brisbane if the filly continues to improve.
“I’ll see how far we go with her. Once we get to 2000m there is always Queensland if she’s going well enough.
“I won’t get ahead of myself, but we will see,” he said.
“Her first run was good, and I was a little bit disappointed the other day at Hawkesbury but it’s tough competition this time of year. She’s been racing well and it’s good to see her win here today.
“He probably went a little bit early on her but he’s the one riding so I’ll give him that. Her pattern will be to just ride her quiet and get home. I think she will get over a bit further as well.”
Jennings settled the filly toward the rear of the field, making his move around the 600m mark. He chased the early leader Elgin into the straight and held on to win by a head.
The Sainty Sunrise ($7) from the Maher/Eustace stable was second, with Senatorial ($31) trained by Tony Ball, a short half head behind in third.
A great ride by Keagan Latham gave the in-form Richard Freedman stable their third winner in two days, after Bondi Boy stormed home over the top of his rivals to win the 1100m MITSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES AIR CONDITIONING AUSTRALIA METRO & PROV MAIDEN.
Freedman had a day out at Muswellbrook on Friday with a feature double, including the Muswellbrook Cup with The Bandit, and Bondi’s victory ended a great week with six winners.
“I’ll probably celebrate tonight because it’s been pretty hectic,” Freedman’s son and foreman Will said. “We’ve had a good run. It’s been great.”
“It was an A-1 ride by Keagan today. There is nothing more to be said. Keagan comes in and rides a bit of work for us and is very much a part of our team. “He’s been doing a great job.”
Latham had Bondi Boy a little worse than midfield for much of the race, squeezing through on the rails in the final stages to score a length win.
Freedman said a change in riding tactics had made the difference.
“It was a different tactic today. Letting him conserve energy and finish off late is his go. If he gets too much open air early, he just over does things. He is a little bit fresh as well and has acquitted himself.
“We will keep going with him, probably another provincial class 1 race and if he shows that he’s got ability to make it back in town, he will earn that right.
“At this point he will need to reproduce it again before we give him a crack in town.”
Bondi Boy ($4.20), beat the Anthony Cummings favourite Making Whoopee ($4), with Jaytees ($5), trained by Gerald Ryan, third.
Praise for jockey Leigh Magorrian after Burbank’s return to form in the 1350m VIETNAM VETERANS KEITH PAYNE V.C HOSTEL CLASS 1.
The Sizzling gelding was last from 14 when resuming at Newcastle on March 21, but a tactical change, well executed by Magorrian, saw the gelding score a convincing three length win.
Stable foreman Clare Heuston said the ride had won the race.
“It was a beautiful win. He doesn’t like being around other horses. Lee was going to ride him positive today. He missed the kick a little bit but just took his time and pinched ground on the outside and had him basically in a very good position coming to the turn,” she said.
“He was full of running and obviously appreciated not being around other horses. That’s the key to him.
“We might find a Canterbury mid-week for him now because he’ll suit the tighter track.”
Burbank ($6), beat the Perry trained Shark Alley ($81), with the Rodney Bailey trained outsider Annie Saturday ($81), third.
Taree trainer Tony Ball had plenty of reason to celebrate after his sprinter Bancroft, the outsider of the field, took out the TWIN LAKES AIR AND SOLAR CONDITIONAL BENCHMARK 70 over 1100m.
Bancroft, ridden by Shaun Guymer, was sent out at $34 but defied the odds to win by a short neck.
Ball, who races the horse in partnership, said it was a great win for him and his owners.
“We got second in an earlier race so to take this out was fantastic,” he said.
“There was so much against him today. He doesn’t handle the heavy and I told Shaun to lead on him at all costs.
“He’s never come from behind in his whole life. I just can’t believe it.
“Ten out of ten to Shaun, it was a great ride.
“He’s missed the kick but then done everything right. That’s why you put the good jockeys on.
“It’s unbelievable, very, very good.
“We will go home now and recoup, see how he pulls up and go from there.”
Bancroft beat Sniponet ($7), trained by Wayne Wilkes, with the $3.50 race favourite Crackneck, trained by Allan Kehoe, third.