SENIOR jockey Chad Schofield and star apprentice Zac Lloyd claimed doubles – but the track certainly earned plaudits as well. From a “Soft 5” morning rating, Racing NSW stewards downgraded it to a “Heavy 10” retrospective to the fourth race as consistent and at times heavy rain fell, but the eight-race card was able to be completed.
The fields weren’t big, but full marks to course manager Phill Robinson and his team.
Schofield scored on favourites Youthfull and Allasandra, and Lloyd, who goes from strength to strength, won on well-supported Diamond Blush and the day’s outsider Commander Bell. While she had only three rivals to beat, there was much to like about the debut of the Tracey Bartley-trained Chilada, who quickly took up the front in her race and won with seemingly plenty in hand. Bartley described her as a “city class filly”, so it will be interesting to gauge her future progress.
RACE 1 – PAVILION EVENTS CENTRAL COAST MAIDEN HANDICAP, 1600m:
FOLLOWING rain throughout the morning, the track was downgraded to a “Heavy 8” before the meeting began. The renowned Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott ball of muscle was again to the fore with $3 favourite VENETIAN BLUE, who broke through at her fifth start after being runner-up on three occasions. Jockey Regan Bayliss took the filly to the front and she had a comfortable run during transit before being strongly challenged on straightening by Ocean Honour ($7), who cruised up and looked certain to overhaul her. However, VENETIAN BLUE, a $320,000 Magic Millions yearling buy in 2021, would not surrender and toughed it out to the line to stall the runner-up’s challenge. The first two horses were sired by multiple Group 1 winner Merchant Navy, and Ocean Honour should not be long breaking through either. This was also his fifth start and his third this preparation. The $31 outsider Tina’s Rock made nice ground along the inside in the straight to finish third.
RACE 2 – CARLTON & UNITED BREWERIES BENCHMARK 64 HANDICAP, 2100m:
PUNTERS were on good terms with themselves during the race with jockey Chad Schofield giving the $2.70 favourite YOUTHFULL a perfect run, one out and one back in harness racing parlance. But it proved to be a real struggle before they were able to collect. Schofield wisely made his move from the 800m to ensure locally-trained Dreamdeel ($2.90) did not get it all his own way up front – and just as well he did. YOUTHFULL took the entire length of the straight before just edging past Dreamdeel in the closing stages to give the daughter of So You Think the third win of her career. Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup edged toward a half century of winners for the season, and opted to back up YOUTHFULL after she had run fourth at Newcastle yesterday week in a similar race over 1850m. She met Dreamdeel (second in the Newcastle race) 1kg better, and it was a telling factor in such a hard slog to the line. Into The Oblivion ($13) made a dash after straightening but was unable to pick up the first two and had to be content with third placing. As with the opening winner, YOUTHFULL also was purchased at the Magic Millions yearling sale at the Gold Coast, this time in 2020 for $375,000. She is a younger sister to 2018 Rosehill Guineas winner D’Argento. Sian (fourth) stood flatfooted and missed the start, and will have to trial to stewards’ satisfaction before being allowed to race again.
RACE 3 – DE BORTOLI F&M MAIDEN HANDICAP, 1200m:
THIS result was never in doubt. Star apprentice Zac Lloyd took DIAMOND BLUSH ($4.20) to the front and the four-year-old daughter of Deep Field, whose stock are generally accomplished wet trackers, never gave her rivals a chance. She travelled strongly throughout, moved clear approaching the home turn and trounced her rivals. DIAMOND BLUSH was having her 13th start, and her young rider took any possible bad luck out of the equation to ensure she had the best opportunity to break through. She had been unplaced at her previous two starts, but revelled in the heavy ground.
Kristen Buchanan’s Foxford Babe ($51) was making her debut and, although convincingly beaten, did a good job to finish second, belying her generous odds. Undoubtedly she can be placed to advantage to shed her maiden status in the near future. Turbo Charged ($5) finished third, whilst the $2.10 favourite Choice Legend was up on the pace, but was under pressure on the home turn and dropped out to finish last of the eight runners. Apprentice Jett Stanley told stewards his mount failed to handle the conditions.
RACE 4 – MAGIC MILLIONS MIDWAY MAIDEN PLATE, 1350m:
A further downgrade to a “Heavy 10” certainly didn’t affect the chances of Pride of Dubai three-year-old ALLASANDRA ($2.60 joint fav), who broke through at her ninth start. Jockey Chad Schofield, as he had done earlier on second race winner Youthfull, didn’t wait and began his run well before the home turn. ALLASANDRA looked a certain winner as she circled the field, but had to work hard to get the better of runner-up Willaidow ($5), who has continued to show improvement this preparation and didn’t give in without a fight. The other co-favorite Yamba’s Award appeared to travel well enough in the early and middle stages, but struggled down the running and finished a distant third.
ALLASANDRA had been placed on heavy ground as a two-year-old at Goulburn in May last year, and this race could hardly be described as the strongest of Maidens. In stark contrast to the first two winners and the third ($180,000 as a yearling), she was a “cheapie”, fetching a mere $4250 online in 2020 as a weanling.
RACE 5 – TAB.COM.AU MAIDEN HANDICAP, 1100m:
The downgrade to a “Heavy 10” precipitated a number of late withdrawals, and only four horses faced the starter here. It may not have mattered anyway how many faced the starter as well-supported first starter CHILADA ($2.35) made a mess of her three rivals. Local trainer Tracey Bartley was on track, recovering well from serious injuries sustained when kicked by a horse a few weeks back, and described the Pride OfDubai filly, who races in the iconic colours of the White family, as city class. “You wouldn’t normally run her on a such a heavy track, but she had a good grounding,” he said. “She is a really good filly who prepped up beautifully with two good trials (winning both at Gosford and on the Beaumont track). “It is an honour to train this filly for the White family.” Rider Jason Collett took CHILADA straight to the front, and she was never threatened. Surrenders ($1.75 favorite) tried hard but was no match for the impressive debutante, and Amadi ($8) was third.
RACE 6 – EARLY BIRD MEMBERSHIP $55 PROVINCIAL BENCHMARK 68 HANDICAP, 1200m:
IN front again was definitely the place to be. Alysha Collett made the running on JACQUINE REWARD ($6), who has a liking for a heavy track at Wyong. He had previously won a Class 1 Handicap (1200m) here in July, 2020 on a ‘Heavy 8’. JACQUINE REWARD was having his fifth start this preparation and clinched his second success and his fifth overall. It was hard going in the straight but he toughed it out to defeat the rising 13-year-old ISORICH ($14), who finished best of all and would have made matters interesting had the race been much further. The old warrior was having his 154thstart and is a credit to his Wyong trainer Wayne Seelin, who continues to keep him in such fine fettle. Oxford Tycoon ($3.50) had his chance before finishing third. Odds-on favorite Miss Fox ($1.85) was never in contention and was beaten a long way out. She tailed the field home in the six-horse field. Jockey Josh Parr told stewards the mare never travelled at any stage and failed to finish the race off.
RACE 7 – WYONG’S NEXT COCKTAIL PARTY – SAT JULY 15 – BOOK NOW F&M BENCHMARK 64 HCP, 1350m:
FAVOURITE backers were on the mark with BEIRUT MISS ($3.50) – but it was no gimme! She was trapped wide early without cover and rider Sam Clipperton had to ease back to get a decent position before making a swooping run around the field. As with Allesandra earlier, BEIRUT MISS looked likely to win comfortably, but had to battle hard in the straight to overcome runner-up She’s Independent ($10). Taking into account she had 60kg and was conceding 5kg, it was a pretty tidy effort. A lightly-raced four-year-old mare, she has raced only eight times for two wins and three placings, so there appears no reason why she cannot show further improvement. The pair had the finish to themselves with third placegetter Impressive Lass ($4.60) more than two length astern. Hyacinth finished a distant last and her rider could not offer a plausible explanation for her failure.
RACE 8 – WYONG’S NEXT RACE MEETING – THURSDAY APRIL 27 – CG&E BENCHMARK 64 HCP, 1350m:
FOUR favourites and two second favorites had won leading up to the last and the longest-priced winner was $6. The seven-year-old gelding COMMANDER BELL gave bookmakers some relief when he finished best to score at $14 for local trainer Brett Partelle. Yet another good day for his young rider Zac Lloyd, who had five rides at the meeting for two wins and two placings. COMMANDER BELL had finished last at his previous start at Wyong a fortnight ago, but obviously relished the heavy ground. He had not won in nearly two years – and that was also on a heavy surface at Gosford in June, 2021. Just as $2.50 favourite Surfers Royale was being hailed the winner, COMMANDER BELL got him down. Jason Collett dropped his off-side rein on Surfers Royale 150m out, and regathered it a short time later. Josh Parr told stewards second favorite Skylight Song (5th at $2.60) struggled to run out a strong 1350m in such heavy conditions, and also felt he might be better suited with the addition of blinkers. Jutland bled from both nostrils.