Wangaratta trainer Andrew Dale and Berrigan-based jockey Bradley Vale are no strangers to success on the NSW country circuit.
Combining for 15 victories in recent seasons, mainly at non-TAB meetings, the pair have become a formidable duo, winning the Balranald Cup in 2023 with Legal Zou, while the pair teamed up for a treble at the same racecourse in November.
On Saturday, Dale was with his team south of the border for the Healesville picnic meeting, but Vale found himself in Tumbarumba.
After a couple of second placings for the travelling stable, he won the race that counted most, guiding the Andrew Dale-trained Eamonn’s Memory to victory in the $18,000 Tumbarumba Cup (1400m).
In what turned out to be a good race, the Craig Weeding-trained Toronto Rain (Jake Duffy, $7.50) led the field along at a good clip.
Vale was patient on Eamonn’s Memory ($3.60), and after fanning wide, the pair powered into the event and were too strong, winning by one and a half lengths from a game Toronto Rain while in third and flashing strongly from last was stablemate Choice Harvest (Alysha Warren, $3.80).
“When I was moving up on Toronto Rain, I was really confident, but you never know what will come at you,” Vale told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
“Coming down the hill, we got moving, and I knew Choice Harvest was going to have to come out and follow me to be a chance because that’s the only way he was going to beat me.
“Once we got outside Toronto Rain, I knew we had done enough, and he won with some in hand, and it wasn’t an overly hard win for the horse.”
Vale was impressed with the win, as he believes the Victorian galloper prefers racing the NSW way.
“It was mainly about getting the horse around the track,” Vale said.
“He doesn’t go the Victorian way the best, and well, Tumbarumba goes the Victorian way, and it’s a bit up and down, so I was trying to steer him around, and I wasn’t in a hurry to pull the whip.
“He had the blinkers back on, which had me a little worried, but he relaxed nicely and did enough to win.”
With their son Jebidiah about to leave home for work opportunities, Vale shared the moment with his wife, Shillelagh MeyerVale and family.
“All of us came along for the day, so it was good,” Vale said.
“Jeb is going down and working on a farm, and he moves out next week, so we thought we would have a family day out.
“It was nice to win the cup, and that’s what these days are about, and it’s just good when you can get a win and a few placings like we did today.”
The Tumbarumba racecourse, which can sometimes favour on-pace types, was picturesque on Saturday, and with good grass coverage all the way around, it played very even.
“I even commented in my little speech at the presentation that in the 18 years I’ve been riding there, it was absolutely spot on and definitely the best I’ve ever seen it,” Vale said.
“It’s usually pretty firm up there, but it was good, and you could lead, sit back, and come from anywhere.”
On a good day at Tumbarumba, apprentice jockey Alysha Warren scored a double, winning on the Craig Weeding-trained A Bit Racey ($3.40) in the 1200m Benchmark 50 Handicap before making it a running double when helping the Ben Brisbourne-trained Bromeo to victory in the 1200m Class One Handicap.
Fellow Wangaratta trainer Craig Weeding also scored a double. Earlier in the program, he won the 1200m Maiden Plate with O’Please (Jake Duffy, $2.10).
Old stager Force Awakens (Teighan Worsnop, $7.50) made it career win number ten when taking out the 1020m Benchmark 45 Handicap for Jindabyne trainer Kevin Byrne.
The day’s win went to the Garry Kirkup-trained Ferrari Girl ($3.20), who raced well around Tumbarumba for apprentice Teaghan Martin before cruising to a nearly three-length win.