Hodge strikes with a Tuncurry double

The Steve Hodge-trained Girls Get Paid, pictured here parading at Newcastle last year, was one of the stable’s two winners at Tuncurry on Saturday. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Trainers don’t always pull the right rein with dual acceptors – but Steve Hodge certainly did yesterday.

Newcastle-based Hodge, who these days refers to himself as a hobby trainer and has only six horses in work, took half of his stable to Tuncurry, and returned home with a winning double.

One of his two winners was Girls Get Paid ($2.10 favorite), who landed the Bears Tyrepower Forster Tuncurry Maiden Plate (1000m), breaking through at only her sixth start.

“I also accepted with the mare at Muswellbrook tomorrow in another 1000m Maiden, and ironically she drew barrier 11 at both tracks,” he said today.

“Tuncurry won out as I felt yesterday’s race was a better option.”

Girls Get Paid, a four-year-old daughter of dual Group 1 winner (2010 Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield and Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington), ran right up to her previous second at $51 from the outside barrier in a field of 14 when runner-up to debutante Milingimbi in a 900m Maiden at Muswellbrook on January 4.

Former WA apprentice Madi Derrick, now with Wyong trainer Kristen Buchanan, rode Girls Get Paid, and fellow apprentice Bailey Wheeler followed up by scoring on stablemate Kikikapow ($2.90 favorite) in the next race, the Lakes & Ocean Hotel Class 1/Maiden Plate (2100m).

Kikikapow, bred by her owner Josh Langridge, who races her in partnership with a group of owners which include Hodge and close friends Brad Marshall and Frances O’Shea, clinched her second victory.

“She ran well first-up when fourth at Port Macquarie over 1512m, which was too short as she has been placed twice at 2600m at Gosford,” Hodge said.

“Kikikapow was really well placed at Tuncurry as, with Bailey’s 3kg claim, she came in with 54kg (1kg under the limit).”

Hodge has long been an advocate of giving apprentices a chance, as evidenced by his two winners yesterday.

“They are happy to come and ride work for me, so I’m happy to put them on come raceday, especially when some of the horses go well for them.

“Another apprentice Shayleigh Ingelse (who recently rode her first winner at Port Macquarie) would have been on Kikikapow, but unfortunately has COVID.

“I was lucky to get Bailey, who is going great. This was his 19th winner, and he started riding only a few months ago.”

Hodge has cut back on his team in recent years as he now manages the equine swimming pool at Broadmeadow racecourse, and has a close connection with Tuncurry in more ways than one.

Not only does he have a soft spot for the Mid North Coast track, having won the Tuncurry Forster Cup (2100m) in consecutive years (2015 with Lucky Ima Cugat and 2016 with Winter Reign – both times at the expense of Kempsey trainer Barry Ratcliff’s Butane), and is now training a three-year-old filly for a syndicate headed by Tuncurry Forster Jockey Club president Garry McQuillan.

“This filly is the last foal of our good mare Rich Megadale, who was struck and killed by lightning in a paddock,” McQuillan said.

“She is by the former Sydney sprinter Counterattack (runner-up in the 2017 Doomben 10,000) and has been named Richattack.”

McQuillan was thrilled with the tremendous response to his club’s opening meeting of the calendar year.

“We had a tremendous crowd in the vicinity of 3000, and there wasn’t a beer left at the end of the day from five pallets,” he said.

“It was our annual Seafood meeting, and we sold out of oysters, prawn rolls and barbecued fish.

“Everyone was well behaved and enjoyed the day.”

Tuncurry’s next TAB meeting is on Saturday, February 26, which is the annual Men Of League day.

Rugby league legends Ron Coote and Bob McCarthy have already been confirmed as attendees that day.