Front Page puts Geoff Duryea on back page after winning Wagga Town Plate

Geoff Duryea.

Enigmatic galloper Front Page for Corowa trainer Geoff Duryea has finally lived up to his lofty billing as one of the best country gallopers in NSW, winning Thursday’s $200,000 Wagga Town Plate. 

Ridden by Tyler Schiller, who also rode a treble on the program, the five-year-old bounced out of the gates, and eventually sat second, trailing early lamplighter, Calescent.

On the long Wagga straight, Front Page showed off an incredible burst in front of the boisterous local crowd, quickly putting five lengths on the field.

As easy as you would like, Schiller eased the Corowa galloper to the line, winning by 4.32 lengths from the Mitch Beer-trained Mnementh, while in third and a further 2.5 lengths back was the Gary Colvin-trained and recent Country Championships winner Another One. 

Duryea, who is a former jockey and popular Southern Districts racing personality, only trains a small team and he said the Town Plate was simply a race he wanted to win with Front Page.

“It sure does mean a lot,” Duryea said.

“I said yesterday, there is only two races in the area (I want to win) and I know there is a massive difference between the Berrigan Cup (which is a) a non-TAB and the Town Plate,” Duryea laughed.”

It was a well-overdue win for the Magnus gelding, which has been set for multiple Country Championships and The Kosciuszko, only for injury and setbacks to seemingly derail Duryea’s plans on each occasion. 

Still, the lightly raced gelding, which has now won five times from 11 starts, was on song at Wagga, and Duryea thanked his loyal owners by sticking by the stable and their talented sprinter.

“Everyone else spent a lot of money and a lot of time and everyone has been really patient and today he rewarded us,” Duryea said. 

“Today he proved he is almost back to his best, and he’s got his head thinking, and the main thing is, I want to thank the owners and everyone for their patience, because it has been a long, drawn-out saga to get him where we are, so I can’t thank everyone enough.”

Incredibly, Front page was first-up from a 30-week spell in the $200,000 feature, while it was his first win since June 2020.

“He has just had so many little setbacks that we couldn’t believe it,” Duryea said.

“I was taking him to the Country Champions a couple of years ago, and I thought he could really win, but we only just got (taken) out after a bit of a float accident, which is unusual for him. 

“We’ve had to come back, and slowly start all over again, but he has proved to myself, the owners, and everyone that this is what he can really do.”

It was a real country affair, with Young product and Sydney-based hoop Tyler Schiller taking the ride, and following his recent Albury Gold Cup win on Harmony Rose, the 23-year-old said he was happy to be back riding feature-race wins in the area where he originally learned his craft.

“Growing up around this area, that is one of the biggest thrills I’ve had,” Schiller said. 

“(Winning) the Albury Cup last month and the Town Plate this money; it has been a great year.”

Schiller was just happy to deliver Duryea a special win, and he was always confident Front Page was good enough to greet the judge first.

“He has just travelled so well, and I was just so confident Geoff would have the horse wound up for this,” Schiller said. 

“He has been nine months off the scene with a few injuries and setbacks, but today he has done the job really well.”

It was a huge first day of the two-day Wagga Gold Cup carnival, which continues today with the running of the $200,000 Wagga Gold Cup, the $75,000 Queen of the South and $75,000 Murrumbidgee Turf Club Guineas. 

For Thursday’s results, readers can click here, for Friday’s fields, readers can click here