When the Chris Waller trained Tough Larry won his maiden on debut on the Kensington track last September there were tears all round.
The horse was bought by the late Matt Callander and there were tears from all the family, including his father, the former top racing journalist Ken and brother Richard.
There were also tears from the family of the late test cricketer Phillip Hughes who also share in the ownership of the three-year-old.
Tough Larry had one more run after that but failed on a heavy track at Randwick and was sent to the paddock.
He resumed at Wyong on Sunday in the Complete Roofing Warehouse Benchmark 64 (1000m) and carried 60kgs to break the class record and score an easy win to give Kathy O’Hara the second leg of a winning double.
There were no tears this time, just plenty of cheering and talk of where the son of Fast ‘n Famous might be headed.
“We know he is a city class horse because they have to be special to win a maiden in town on debut,” Richard said.
“He is a Saturday class horse for sure.”
It was only decided at 7.28 on race morning to run Tough Larry in this race.
Waller had accepted with him in two races at Wyong and in another at Warwick Farm on Monday.
“This race was last on the list of priorities and Chris rang from New Zealand this morning and wanted to run at Warwick Farm because it is 1200 metres and that is his best distance,” Richard said.
“However, we had a discussion and decided this was the most appropriate race first up.
“That was a nice kill and will give him a lot of confidence.”
O’Hara settled Tough Larry on the outside of the leader Miss Fisher but once they turned for home, he kicked away to win by one- and three-quarter lengths in 57.10 seconds.
The Gerald Ryan trained problem horse, Mameli (James Innes), defied a betting drift and an unusual preparation to lead all the way and win the SEA FM Showstopper Maiden (1000m) on debut.
Memeli opened an odds-on favourite but drifted to start at $3.10 after going into the race on the back of just two gallops.
However, he just managed to hold off a late challenge from the well backed $2.10 favourite Temple Run (Jay Ford) to win by a short head.
“He is a difficult horse to train because he has had so many issues,” Ryan said.
“He has had two knee operations and a tie back on his throat and went into this race with a jump out and a trial.
“The rest of his work has been trotting and cantering and in the pool.”
Glenn and Viive Williams paid $70,000 for Memali at a breeze up.
“He was my third pick but the first two went for prices outside our range,” Glenn Williams said.
“At one stage I was regretting buying him because of the problems but we always had faith in him and Gerald has done an amazing job.”
Glenn and Viive Williams race the horse in partnership with former top jockey Neville Voigt and his wife Jenny.
“We had horses with Neville when he was training and we have remained friends after he closed his stable,” Glenn said.
“We convinced them to come into this horse and we bought three yearlings at the Gold Coast and I am going to try and talk them into coming into or two of them with us.”
That was the first leg of a double for Ryan who won the following race, the Club Toukley’s Harry Trotters Maiden (1350m) with another first starter in the beautifully bred Miss Belief (Glyn Schofield), a $350,000 yearling buy.
Miss Belief, the 2.60 favourite, is by Snitzel from Divine Rebel which ran two seconds in Sydney cups.
“Jay Ford had been riding her in a lot of her work and he thinks we will see the best of her when she gets to 1600 metres or 2000 metres,” Ryan said.
“She showed us a lot in her first preparation and I put her out but she came back and was going awful so I put her out again.
“This time in she has been going really well.”
Schofield settled her sixth place and she showed a great turn of foot when he asked her to go forward.
She was the widest runner on the turn and accelerated quickly to shake off Poseidon Star (7.50) and win by three quarters of a length.
Another filly to stamp herself as a potential middle-distance galloper is the Anthony Cummings trained Turakina (Adam Hyeronimus) which caused something of an upset in winning the United Tools Maiden (1600m).
Turakina ($5.50) exploded away in the straight to easily put paid to the odds-on favourite Deelbraka ($1.40) to beat him by two and a quarter lengths.
“This is the first time we have put blinkers on Turakina and she really needed them,” stable representative, Harry Cruickshank, said.
“Her previous two starts over 1350 metres here showed she was crying out for the blinkers and the extra distance.
“We think she is going to make a nice middle-distance galloper.”
Hyeronimus settled Turakina in fifth place and tracked the favourite all the way.
Soon after straightening it was apparent the favourite was in trouble and Turakina strolled away to win easily.
A brilliant ride from Kathy O’Hara and equally brilliant gate speed from Spiritual Pursuit led to the filly scoring an all the way win in the Floormaster Maiden (1000m) for trainer Jason Coyle.
Spiritual Pursuit ran a class record of 57 seconds for the win, coming home last 600 metres in 33.22 seconds.
The filly is by Snitzel from the Shamardal mare Happy Hippy and is a family that Coyle is well acquainted with.
He trained Happy Hippy to win a Taree maiden for Nathan Tinkler before the filly was switched to John Thompson at Randwick.
“She was the first Australian winner for Shamardal,” Coyle said.
Happy Hippy was a two-time Listed winner and was placed several times at Group level.
“Spiritual Pursuit is by Australia’s leading sire and with that breeding you just hope they can gallop,” Coyle said.
“She had three starts last preparation including one here at Wyong and she was just weak so I gave her a good break and she came back far stronger and more mature.”
Spiritual Pursuit ($3.20) was having her first start back from that break with the benefit of two trials.
She started from the outside barrier but easily won the start and O’Hara was able to use her natural early speed to get across and on to the fence.
She was strong the whole way and went to the line full of running to win by one-and-three-quarter lengths from You And You Alone ($9).
The David Pfieffer-trained Fluidity made it two starts for two wins when he prevailed in the MI Property Benchmark 64 (2100m).
The mare, ridden by Jason Collett, won her maiden over a similar distance at Gosford earlier this month and turned in another true staying test to win here.
Collett had the $3 favourite last before taking off at the 700 metres to circle the field and join Fraudulent (Kathy O’Hara) in the lead.
That pair kicked away from the rest and it became a two-horse war in the straight.
Fraudulent took the lead but at the 200 metres Fluidity kicked away at the 100 metres to win by two lengths.
The strength of English jockey Tom Marquand got the Scott Singleton trained Partners home in the Job Centre Class One (1100m).
Marquand did a great job to jump Partners ($3.70) straight to the lead from his outside gate and dictate terms and then hold off the Kim Waugh trained Mighty Marmalade ($5.50).
“It was Tom’s strength that got him home,” former jockey Benny Vassallo said.
“He is a pretty fair horse and Scott has done a good job with him.
“We bought a yearling at the Magic Millions which will go to Scott while we are also going to the Easter sales as well.”
Vassallo is the racing manager for B K Racing and Breeding which owns Partners.
Marquand said he had been worried half way down the straight.
“I could hear the other horse coming and I thought we were going to be swamped but he dug deep, it was a tough win,” he said.
Salsa Man continued his good form at Wyong when he proved far too strong, second up, in the Bendigo Bank Wyong Benchmark 64 (1600m).
The son of I Am Invincible, bought for $300,000 at the 2017 Premier Yearling Sale, looks destined for a good preparation this time in.
“He was racing well in mid-week company in Sydney last preparation which was good form for a race like this,” foreman Nathan Perry said.
“He was gelded then spelled and has matured and improved.”
In three starts at Wyong Salsa Man has scored two wins and run a close second, first up, 17 days ago.
Chad Lever let Salsa Man ($6) drop out to second last then started to work forward from the 700 metres, circled the field and was the widest runner in the straight to win by half a length from the $2.30 favourite Nindamos.