It surely had to be an obvious tip!
How fitting that today’s feature race on our opening day of the Cup carnival should be won by a local – and on Ladies’ Day to boot!
Denim Wynen landed the Johnnie Roberts Memorial, named after the popular Wyong trainer who passed away in May 2020 after battling cancer, with her underrated mare Obvious Step ($6.50).
Ridden by Ashley Morgan, who scored on Newcastle sprinter Hard To Say in the Doomben opener yesterday, the six-year-old mare overcame a slow getaway and a troublesome run in the straight to prevail in a tight finish to the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1350m).
Wynen has now won three races with Obvious Step, who began her career in Sydney and also was a thrice winner for her original trainer David Payne.
She dually accepted with Obvious Step, and pulled the right rein in withdrawing her from the Magic Millions Racing Women Benchmark 68 Handicap (1600m) against her own sex to stay at the shorter distance.
An overweight Morgan forfeited his two other bookings at the meeting, and was fined $100 by Racing NSW stewards.
Jockey Adam Hyeronimus made the most of a late pick-up mount to take the riding honours with a treble.
Hyeronimus won the first two races on Solar System and Global before replacing an overweight Aaron Bullock on local mare Oakfield Redgum in the sixth race, and was rewarded with the easiest of his three successes.
Bullock had four mounts at the meeting, and did not ride. Stewards will interview him about being overweight at a date to be fixed.
There was also a nice reward for Wyong trainer Damien Lane, who celebrated his birthday by winning with Oakfield Redgum.
Hyeronimus had Oakfield Redgum away smartly, and she never gave him – nor her backers – the slightest cause for concern, romping away in the straight to score by more than five lengths.
A plunge on debutante Countyourblessings went astray in the opening event, The Agency 3YO Maiden Plate (1200m).
Backed from odds against to start a dominant $1.80 favorite, the I Am Invincible filly, a $250,000 Magic Millions yearling buy at the Gold Coast last year, couldn’t overhaul another MM purchase SOLAR SYSTEM ($4.60), who cost more at $530,000.
The winner, a member of the Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Bott team, quickly gathered pace after jumping, took up the running on the rails and gave plenty to maintain a good break in the straight all the way to the post.
Countyourblessings was inclined to veer to the centre of the track over the last 100m, and never looked likely to reach the winner, but no doubt will take improvement from her first start.
Winning rider Adam Hyeronimus considers SOLAR SYSTEM is trending in the right direction after the Deep Field gelding had finished third at Wyong on August 3 when making his debut.
“He has improved every time he has been to the trials and races, and was good today,” Hyeronimus said.
Yarraville ($41), another making her debut, though beaten clearly, finished well to grab third placing, just ahead of Kristen Buchanan’s Team America ($14).
Sydney trainer Joe Pride was both delighted and relieved to see GLOBAL EMPIRE ($1.95 favorite) shed his maiden status in the Care 2 The Max 4YO&Up Maiden Handicap (1100m).
“He has been a bit frustrating, but has been slow maturing,” Pride said.
“That’s not to say he won’t get to where we hope he will, and it was good to see him do that today.”
Jockey Adam Hyeronimus, who clinched a double in the open two races, said “it was a good strong win”.
“He travelled nice and strong, and stretched out nicely when I asked him to go after straightening.”
Having his seventh start (he had been placed four times), GLOBAL EMPIRE didn’t have things his own way, being pressured by both Rinzai (4th) and KongKong Harmony (last) up front.
He shook them off making the home turn, and was never threatened thereafter in defeating Let’s Try ($6.50) by two and a half lengths, with a further one and a half lengths to third placegetter, Louise Munce’s Ranhita ($18).
GLOBAL EMPIRE trialled six times, starting early last year, before making his debut when placed later that year at Hawkesbury in October over 1000m behind the talented and subsequent Listed winner Red Card.
THE third leader in a row won when Sara Ryan struck a blow for Wyong trainers with lightly-raced FRANK EXPRESS ($15).
Sydney’s champion apprentice Zac Lloyd, at his first ride returning from a suspension, bounced straight back to the winning list, leading throughout in the Iris Foundation Benchmark 68 Handicap (2100m).
A four-year-old son of European champion Frankel, FRANK EXPRESS made it two victories on end, following a 1600m breakthrough in a Newcastle Midway Maiden on August 10.
“I always thought he would get a middle distance,” Ryan said afterwards.
“Zac rode him a treat, getting away with cheap sectionals around the back.”
FRANK EXPRESS was having only his fifth start and beat a game Mr Bond ($5), who lost his off fore plate in running and showed a return to form.
Hat-trick seeker Vincenzo ($3.60), who fluffed the start by jumping in the air when the gates opened, and cost himself any chance of achieving that.
Disappointment of the race was another recent Newcastle winner Bulbarrow ($3.10 favorite). He was also chasing a hat-trick, but was under pressure on the home turn and dropped out to finish last of the eight runners.
A subsequent veterinary examination did not reveal any abnormalities.
JOCKEY Jean Van Overmeire continued his brilliant start to the new season, clinching his 16th winner on Hawkesbury mare SACRED GIRL ($11) in the Robson Civil Projects Provincial Maiden Plate (1600m).
Such has been his form that he shares the lead in the NSW premiership with Sydney’s champion jockey James McDonald.
Van Overmeire gave the Sacred Falls mare, a $65,000 New Zealand buy two years ago, a perfect run behind fellow Hawkesbury representative Mr Papera, a well-backed $2.35 favorite, and finished best to beat him narrowly.
He had the mare away quickly at the jump and then took a trail behind Mr Papera, who had worked across from his outside barrier to take up the running, but lost his near fore plate during the race.
Tracey Bartley’s Stanczyk ($2.50) was given every chance and wound up a close third.
SACRED GIRL had five trials without racing for a leading Sydney stable, and has now raced four times since being transferred to leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup.
“I’m really happy she won for Tricolours Racing and a large group of owners,” Widdup said.
“She has shown enough ability to win a race, but has been a bit laidback in her races.
“I tried blinkers, but they didn’t work, so we put a nose roll on her today, and we were able to ride her more positively, and she did the job for us.”
Four-year-old mare KINGSTON CHARM ($4.40) has a real affinity with Wyong as her jockey Tyler Schiller pointed out after her win in the ODA Advisory Class 1 Handicap (1600m).
“She seems to like the track as both her wins have been here,” Schiller said.
“KINGSTON CHARM won her Maiden earlier in July when Reece Jones rode her.”
Schiller had the mount on the daughter of Exosphere for the first time at her last run when third in a Class 1 Handicap (1600m) at Hawkesbury on August 8.
“She isn’t a mare you can bustle, so I was happy to be patient on her and she travelled comfortably throughout,” he said.
“I thought she put them away pretty comfortably too.”
Once Schiller got a gap on KINGSTON CHARM in the straight, she dashed quickly and was too good for Golden Passport ($4) and roughie Muckabout ($51).
Forget the $2.90 favorite Rise To It’s defeat. He had no luck at all in the run, was widest on the home turn and kept battling right to the post to just miss third placing. He can soon make amends for hat defeat.
WYONG trainer Damien Lane celebrated a birthday with a winner – and there was never any doubt about it.
He was confident beforehand OAKFIELD REDGUM ($2.60 favorite) could do the job in the Magic Millions Racing Women F&M Benchmark 68 Handicap (1600m, and didn’t have a moment’s worry.
With Aaron Bullock an absentee, Adam Hyeronimus was the replacement rider and rode the easiest of his three winners at the meeting.
Hyeronimus quickly had OAKFIELD REDGUM into stride and she travelled smoothly in front.
It was obvious on the home turn that the five-year-old daughter of Dundeel was going to be hard to run down.
She scored by more than five lengths from Lyrical Lady ($11), who ran on gamely, and Tornado Light ($31) was third.
OAKLFIELD REDGUM was Lane’s second winner of the season (All Too Sneaky was his first at Dubbo on August 13, and he has also had five minor placings).
“The map looked really good for her today,” he said. “She is better if she can find the front and get a couple of cheap sectionals, then roll along from the 500m.
“OAKFIELD REDGUM Is better ridden that way rather than sit and sprint, also likes soft ground.
“Whilst she hasn’t won out of turn, she has matured into a nice mare and seems to be putting it all together.”
Jockey Ashley Morgan has had a busy weekend – but well worth it.
He won the opening race at Doomben yesterday on Newcastle-trained Hard To Say, and landed the Johnnie Roberts Memorial Benchmark 64 Handicap (1350m) here on local OBVIOUS STEP ($6.50), who was slow to jump and didn’t have the clearest of passages either in the straight.
Morgan eventually got her around the heels of $2.90 favorite Rockabilly Rebel, and she drove hard to take the major prize.
In a close finish where any of several horses could have won in the closing stages, OBVIOUS STEP got there in time to edge out Rockabilly Rebel and $41 roughie She’s Independent, who made the running.
Well-backed Lady Shenanigans ($4.40) was a close fourth.
Wyong trainer Denim Wynen has done a terrific job with OBVIOUS STEP since taking over her preparation last year.
She has won three races with the daughter of Sidestep, who has also been placed on seven occasions in her care.
WRITTEN Tycoon three-year-old QUEEN OF THE MILE made it two wins from three starts since joining the Michael Freedman stable, and could not have been more impressive in doing so.
Ridden by Tom Sherry, QUEEN OF THE MILE ($4) was resuming, having also easily won the Gold Nugget 2YO Handicap (1100m) at Bathurst in April.
She loomed up menacingly to tackle front-runner Nonshalant ($7.50), and swept away to beat her convincingly.
The $26 outsider Proud Image was third, with Allan Kehoe’s $3.70 favorite One Kind fourth after appearing to have every chance.
A $180,000 Magic Millions yearling buy last year, Queen Of The Mile looks destined to make the grade in town.
Once You Were ($6.50) ran fifth, but had absolutely no luck in the straight, and is worth another chance next time out.