ON a dreary and wet day, a couple of lightly-raced horses were indeed shining lights.
Whilst it wasn’t a feature meeting, both Shaken and Soobooco won their respective races impressively enough to suggest they can reach greater heights.
Having only her second start and first since February, the beautifully-bred Shaken ($3.80) trounced her rivals in the Magic Millions – Club Sponsor 2002-2027 2YO Fillies Maiden Handicap (1000m).
Three-year-old Soobooco was all the rage at $1.50 for the Ladies’ Day August 27 In Support of The Iris Foundation Midway Maiden Plate (1100m), and gave connections and punters alike no cause for concern.
Shaken was quickly into stride, and had no trouble shaking off $2.15 favorite Love and Light’s short-lived challenge on straightening to romp home by nearly three lengths.
She had run last on debut on the Kensington track on February 3, but there were excuses.
Shaken overraced and was reluctant to settle, and her rider Jason Collett eased her out of the race near the 300m when she continued to hang out.
Trainer James Cummings had to barrier trial Shaken to RacingNSW stewards’ satisfaction – which he did 18 days later at Hawkesbury, and then gave her a break.
Since returning to work, the filly had given a taste of her ability with easy barrier trial victories at Rosehill Gardens (900m on June 6) and Hawkesbury (800m 13 days later).
A daughter of the brilliant sire I Am Invincible, Shaken is the fifth foal of the 2014 Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes winner and Golden Slipper Stakes runner-up Earthquake.
“She is the most athletic horse Earthquake has produced,” stable spokesman Darren Beadman said afterwards.
“James (Cummings) has been patient with her, and she has strengthened up nicely.
“Zac Lloyd knows how to ride a fast horse fast, and she won with a lot of authority.
“Shaken is a really good type, and wouldn’t look out of place on the catwalk.”
Newcastle trainer Mark Minervini was delighted to get Soobooco into the winning list at his first start since late January after being placed at four (all seconds) of his previous five outings.
A $100,000 purchase at the 2021 Magic Millions yearling sale at the Gold Coast, breeder Max Whitby took a share in the young horse when Minervini bought him.
“Soobooco ran against some good horses earlier in his career, and I recommended to his owners that we pull up stumps in January and wait for winter as he had shown me soft tracks would suit him,” Minervini explained.
“The rain arrived on time, and it was an easy watch.
“I’m sure we can win a few more with him in the next couple of months.”
Soobooco’s victory continued a very successful season for Minervini, the former Adelaide trainer who relocated to Newcastle in 2019.
The gelding was his 24th winner – five of them have been at Wyong – since August, and he said he has built good clients, and has been gradually getting a better quality of horse.
Soobooco sat behind the speed, loomed up on straightening and looked to have plenty in reserve as he stretched clear of fellow Newcastle trainer Nathan Doyle’s Amberina ($8) in the closing stages.
Winning rider Jason Collett said Soobooco was “quite progressive”, and appreciated the wet ground.
Who would have expected an ATC Derby runner-up to be lining up at the provincials in a restricted race – but there he was in the Happy Retirement Isorich Class 1/Maiden Plate (2100m)!
Not surprisingly, Benaud was a $1.26 favorite and outclassed his four rivals by more than six lengths.
A 1400m Nowra Maiden winner on debut in September 2021, Benaud was narrowly beaten by Hitotsu in the 2400m ATC Derby the following autumn.
However, he had failed to get the winning feeling again in 11 subsequent starts – all in good company – and trainer John O’Shea sent him to Wyong to gain a confidence boosting breakthrough.
“He needed to do that, and it was good to see him do so,” said O’Shea’s foreman Tom Charlton.
“We’ve been so happy with the horse over the last 12 months even though he wasn’t winning, and went all over him and couldn’t find anything wrong.
“All going well, he will go to the Grafton Cup now.”
The $200,000 Listed Cup (2350m) will be run on Thursday week (July 13) as the highlight of the carnival.
Benaud’s victory – only the second of his 20-start career – put up a double for one of Sydney’s leading apprentices, Tyler Schiller.
He had earlier won the Become A Wyong Race Club Member for Just $55 Maiden Plate (1350m) on $1.90 favorite Double Scoop, who broke through at her ninth start.
The Press Statement three-year-old was dropping back to provincial grade after two recent Sydney appearances; the latest when runner-up at Canterbury on June 21.
Schiller always had her in a prominent position, and she was too good for Burns To Embrace ($5.50) and Lord Bob ($21).
Double Scoop’s Royal Randwick trainer John Thompson got punters off to a flyer by winning the first two races with odds-on favorites.
Regally-bred Kingston Charm ($1.90), with another leading apprentice Reece Jones aboard, took the De Bortoli 3YO Maiden Handicap (1600m).
The filly fetched only $19,000 as an online buy in May 2020, and like her stablemate Double Scoop, also was racing for the ninth occasion.
Though not brilliantly away, Jones took full advantage of Kingston Charm’s soft draw to settle her in a prominent position before securing a split between third placegetter Rabairneach ($3.50) and runner-up Sonny Fella ($20) to outgame that pair in the last 50 metres.
It took six races before the locals joined the winning list – and Damien Lane did it in style, courtesy of a classy Rachel King front-running ride on Dundeel four-year-old Oakfield Redgum ($5).
Lane made it 30 wins for the season; four of them in the last four days.
He scored with Oakfield Mahogany at Kembla Grange last Saturday, and then clinched a double with Deep Opinions and Propel Motion at the opening of Grafton’s July carnival a day later.
Oakfield Redgum maintained a good gallop right to the line to defeat recent Hawkesbury winner Queen Astrid ($3.70) and fellow Wyong trainer Kristen Buchanan’s Blue Guitar ($21), in the Consider Race Sponsorship at Wyong Provincial Class 1 Handicap (1600m).
“She has been looking for the 1600m, and the sting out of the ground,” Lane said.
“I probably made a mistake by keeping her at 1400m last time when she was a bit dour.
“Oakfield Redgum won her maiden at Port Macquarie by a big margin on a soft track last August, and it was heavy today and she handled it well.
“I think she can manage up to 2000m, and she excels on these wet tracks.”
Newcastle’s gun apprentice Dylan Gibbons tagged Orlabent as a “quality horse” after the three-year-old completed a hat-trick in the Carlton Wyong Gold Cup Friday September 1 Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m).
“He probably wasn’t all that comfortable on the heavy ground, and I feel he will be an even better horse next preparation,” Gibbons said.
Orlabent ($3 second favorite) took the length of the straight to get there in the nick of time, but responded gamely to nab Shezanalister ($7) in the last couple of bounds.
The lightly-raced Hellbent three-year-old has had four starts since joining leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees’ stable.
After Orlabent ran a promising second first-up over 1000m at the Scone carnival on May 12, Lees took blinkers off him – and he has rattled off subsequent wins at Wyong (twice) and Port Macquarie in between.
Whereas racing began on a “Soft 6” rating, rain during the meeting resulted in a gradual downgrade to a “Heavy 9” for the final three events.
Jockey Tom Sherry ended the day on a winning note, but not before he said “everything that could go wrong did go wrong” with Invictus Lad ($4.40) in the Wyong’s Next Race Meeting Saturday July 15 Class 1 Handicap (1350m).
“He was playing up in the stalls and didn’t jump well, but got into a nice rhythm once he settled,” Sherry said.
“Peter and Paul Snowden have been looking for a wet track for him, and he toughed it out well at the end.”
Invictus Lad moved up menacingly wide on the home turn and he, runner-up Skylight Song ($3.80 favorite) and third placegetter Lease ($4.20), slogged it out over the last 200m.