Kieren Hazelton and Andrew Banks combine for Gilgandra treble

Andrew Banks, pictured here on Epica at Coonamble last month, guided the Kieren Hazelton colours to three victories at Gilgandra on Saturday. Photo: Racing photography.

Gilgandra trainer Kieren Hazelton and Sydney jockey Andrew Banks combined for a winning treble at Gilgandra on Saturday. 

The pair won half the races on the card, and while home track advantage no doubt helped connections, Banks praised Hazelton for having his team in tip-top order. 

“Look, they say it helps racing on your home track, but you have to have your horses right on the day,” Banks said. 

“Kieren’s horses do run well at Gilgandra, but he had them in good nick and he deserves those results.”

Banks and Hazelton kicked off their winning treble in the 1200m Maiden Handicap, with Turgenev ($4.80) finishing hard and fast to win by 1.78 lengths from the Cody Morgan-trained Bijara (Clayton Gallagher, $5), while in third and 3.43 lengths off the pace was the Natalie Pearce-trained She’s Just A Dream (Ken Dunbar, $21). 

“He was a Melbourne horse, and he is very gangly,” Banks said after the run. 

“He couldn’t get around the track, but he sprinted well fresh, and he was just too good for them.”

The pair then made it a running-double in the 1100m Benchmark 50 Handicap, with Mamelon ($32.10) finishing strongly down the outside when edging the Bryan Dixon-trained Renzulli (Camille Houlgatte, $5.50) by 0.05 of a length, while in third and only 0.13 of a length off the winner was the Luke Thomas-trained Spanish Missile (Clayton Gallagher, $3.80). 

“It wanted to run off the track and didn’t want to go straight,” Banks said. 

“She was pretty wayward, but it was a good win for Kieren.”

Banks then sealed the treble in the 1280m Benchmark 50 Handicap when racing three wide on Sizzling Star ($22.80) before pulling away and winning by 1.47 lengths from the Maree Hopkins-trained Mystic Flame (Michael Heagney, $12), and in third and 1.94 lengths off the pace was the Clint Lundholm-trained Sin City Belle (Hollie Hull, $10). 

“I come out and ride track work for Kieren when I can, and I was very confident with my last winner,” Banks said. 

“I just had to keep her out of trouble, and she raced out of her grade the start before and third-up today we thought she was cherry ripe to win.”

Gilgandra raced very evenly, with horses winning on pace and from well back, and Banks was pleased with the conditions of the surface following the recent dry spell. 

“It was really good, a very good track in fact,” Banks said.

“They watered it, and they couldn’t have had it any better.”

Banks won’t head back to Sydney until next week, with the 50-year-old staying with family before returning to Gilgandra on Monday for the showcase Gilgandra Cup meeting. 

“I will stay up with family at Gulargambone. I have been up here for the week, shooting and yabbying and enjoying life,” Banks laughed. 

“I’ll race here again on Monday and head home on Tuesday.”

Gilgandra’s six-race Sky 2 program proved a popular event for racegoers, with a bumper crowd in attendance. 

The club will be on the quick back-up on Monday when hosting their Gilgandra Cup eight-race program. 

For all results from Saturday’s meeting click here and for Monday’s fields click here