By Frances O’Shea, Photos Steve Hart
Brett Partelle took out the training honours at Wyong’s Turf Care Australia Race Day, bringing a welcome change of luck to the stable.
For the past four months he has been plagued with adversity, suffering from the effects of fire and flood at his South Tacoma property.
At one stage the horses were sidelined for 10 days and Partelle was unsure if they were short of a run heading into the Wyong meeting.
That proved to be the opposite with Rifles and Aytobe both greeting the judge.
“It’s great to see things finally turning around,” Partelle said, “and I think both horses have a future.”
He intends to target the Brisbane Winter Carnival with Rifles after his dominant first up win.
The four-year-old, who was previously placed twice from three starts, was sent out $1.75 favourite in the ICL SIERRAFORM GT MAIDEN over 1000m.
Rifles was gelded following his first preparation and Partelle believes it has improved him significantly.
“His manners were a lot better and that’s what we were looking for,” he said.
“He wasn’t screwed right down today with no official trial. Keegan (Latham) rode him a treat and he really settled down.
“We knew he would run well but to win like that is very encouraging.
“If he’d have trialled, I think he could have put another four lengths on them.
“At this stage I would say we will head to Brisbane and the trip away will do him good. He’s a nice horse and I’ve always had an opinion of him.
“I think he will develop into a really nice racehorse capable of winning a good race throughout his career. “
Rifles jumped well in the ICL SIERRAFORM GT MAIDEN over 1000 metres with Latham settling him just off the speed.
He took him to the front on straightening, dashing away from his rivals to win by more than four lengths.
Latham was also full of praise for the victory.
“He’s got a bright future,” he said.
Partelle’s partner Lani Pritchard has a share in the Smart Missile gelding, who was a $30,000 yearling purchase.
He beat the Damien Lane trained Buckin’ Rippa ($9.50), with Honey Elyees ($14) from the Jeremy Sylvester stable.
Aytobe made it a stable double, also putting upward of four lengths on his opposition to take out the 1200m FLORATINE FOLIARS PROV & CTRY MAIDEN.
The win, in class record time, brought up a double for Keagan Latham.
“He’s been promising to do that for a while,” he said.
“He was a tragedy beaten at Scone and he’s a very good rider this boy. I left it up to him as to where he would be.
“He’s broken the class record and has enough ability to be a nice horse in town on a Saturday.
“It’s good to see him get the monkey off his back because he’s had a few excuses and it’s been a bit disappointing for his owners so far in a couple of his races, but he made amends today.”
Aytobe ($5), a four-year-old Bullet Train gelding, beat Uprise ($3) from the Widdup stable, with Just Like Jessie ($41) from the Attard/Keegan stable, third.
Kristen Buchanan will consider a shot at the Wyong Provincial Championship Qualifier with Maggie Bee after the mares’ strong win in the 1200m SPORTS TURF SOLUTIONS CLASS 2.
The four-year-old was given a soft, front running ride by Jenny Duggan and was able to sustain the lead to the line, winning by a length and a quarter.
“I’ll have a good talk to Jenny, but we may head to the Wyong Qualifier. I think she deserves a shot,” Buchanan said.
“Her last run at Newcastle was good but she burned a bit of petrol, so we just decided to change a bit of gear and be a little more gentle, and not try and drive her to be anywhere.
“The alley made it possible because if you draw an outside alley or an inside alley you’ve got your hands full. We drew a nice gate today and she got the job done.
“She always tries really hard and it was perfect today.”
A large crowd of excited connections were on hand to celebrate the win.
The Tim McIntosh trained Absolute Trust ($3.40) was second, with Titus ($12) from the Perry stable, a length behind in third.
The Hawkes trained Pink Beau ($3.30) overcame a slow start to bring up her debut win in the SYNGENTA POSTERITY 2YO MAIDEN over 1200m.
The Brazen Beau filly was sent out $3.30 favourite on the strength of her first start on February 19, when she finished fifth behind Black Opal winner Barbaric.
Andrew Atkins didn’t panic when the filly reared at the start, missing the kick by a length.
He settled her just off the pace and then ran down the opposition in the straight to record a three quarter of a length win.
Trainer Michael Hawkes said he would access the next run for the filly over coming days.
“She jumped a bit awkward but to Andrew’s credit he didn’t panic and just let it all sort of unfold. He wanted to push her out on the corner, but the gap disappeared, so he had to wait and when he let her go, she knuckled down to the task and got the job done.
“She did everything right in her first start, the gap just probably closed that day as well, so with her two runs she hasn’t had much like.
“In saying that I do like her, she knuckles down and really wants to get the job done.”
The Kim Waugh trained Princess Betty ($4) was impressive on debut finishing second, over Princess Glamour ($19) from the Gary Portelli stable.
Mensa Missile is headed for a midweek metropolitan race after his dominant win in the TURFCULTURE THUMPER MITICIDE MAIDEN over 1350m.
It was another good result for favourite backers, with the Smart Missile gelding sent out at the skinny odds of $1.45 following his fourth on debut at Kensington on February 19.
He put paid to his opposition in impressive style, winning by almost five lengths.
Stable foreman Ronnie Nunn said the three-year-old was good at his first start and had improved after a subsequent trial.
“We were pretty confident today and he won as the price would suggest,” he said.
“Everything went to plan. He relaxed nice and easy in front and was impressive.
“He travelled well throughout the run. There was a bit of merit in the win. He got left in front a long way out, and for a lightly raced horse, he’s heading in the right direction.
“He will most likely go to a midweek race next start.”
Adam Hyeronimus said Mensa Missile relaxed well and once asked to pick up and find the line he did so.
“It was the perfect race for him today. He’s a real seven-furlong horse so it’s good to get him up to the distance.”
Unloch The Rock ($13) trained by Gary Portelli was second, with Craig Carmody’s galloper Red Hot ($5.50), third.OHot Hot
A well rated ride by Louise Day saw the speedy Vinci Lady ($8.50) upset some of the more favoured runners to take out the BAYER INDEMNIFY CLASS 1.
The I Am Invincible mare hit the ground running and let throughout the 1000m dash.
Trainer Gary Portelli was complimentary of the ride and Vinci Lady.
“Louise has been down to ride her work a few times and I think that makes a difference she knows what’s she’s capable of doing.” he said.
“It was a great ride. She just controlled her, let her go through her gears and the fastest horse won.
“We were pretty keen on her chances. If she turned up, I thought she’d win.
“I heard a few people say there was a lot of speed in the race, but I don’t think there would be too many lead this girl when she’s on song.
“She travels better in front now. Last preparation she was going to the front and over racing. At Newcastle in a 900m she went helter skelter but just blew out late and I think she was favourite that day. I hope the punters got something back today.”
Cameron Crockett’s $2.40 favourite Fox Spirit was a length behind in second, over Crimson Ticket ($20) from the Jim and Greg Lee yard.
A last-minute decision proved to be a winning one for Clare Cunningham after Ready’s Girl ($8.50) put paid to her opposition to take out the TURFCARE AUSTRALIA CONDITIONAL BENCHMARK 70 over 1600m.
The Better Than Ready filly was coming off a good run at Canterbury over the 1900m and Cunningham had intended to step her up to the 2000m.
“To be honest there wasn’t much around for her over that distance, so we decided to bring her here,” she said.
“I was as confident as you can be going back in distance. She drew nicely and it looked like a suitable race.
“We will take her out to the 2000m now.
“She’s a ripping little filly and it was a wonderful ride by Rachel (King).
“This filly has come such a long way. She really had to knuckle down and tough it out.
“She’s very fit and tough and looks like she’s got a good wind capacity so I wouldn’t be too worried about the 10 furlongs.”
Ready’s Girl beat the Paul Perry trained Opinions ($7.50) by half a length, with the Deamer trained Time Raid ($8) third.
A long-time friendship paid dividends for Luke Thomas and Aaron Bullock when the pair combined to win the ECO BUNKER AUSTRALIA BENCHMARK 64 over 1350m with Asudem.
The Duporth gelding brought up his fifth win from 18 starts and is now likely to target the Country Championship Wild Card at Muswellbrook on March 22.
“I want to really thank Aaron,” Thomas said after the race. “He and I have been friends for a long time. He has been struggling with his weight but gave me his word he’d ride for me today.
“This horse is really tough. To win like that with the 60kg was a really big effort, particularly when the winners have been leading here today.
“He has been super consistent, and I think he deserves a chance in the Wild Card.”
Bullock said it was great to win for Thomas.
“We went to school together so have been mates for a long time. I really wanted to ride for him today and it was good to see him get another win.
“He’s a tough, consistent horse.”
In a nail-biting finish, Asudem, the $2.80 race favourite, beat Mohican ($61) from the Robert and Luke Price stable by a short half head, with Salsa Man ($8.50) from the Perry stable, a close third.