It was another busy weekend of crowd-less racing at NSW Country meetings on Saturday and Sunday but that didn’t stop some interesting stories from popping up across the state.
The TAB Highway Handicap was run at Kembla Grange on Saturday, and it was a popular win in the Class Two 1400m event with Ron Weston and John Nisbet preparing Propose a Toast for victory.
It was a game front-running effort by the Canberra galloper, with Sam Clipperton getting every ounce of effort out of the four-year-old, holding off the fast-finishing pair of Haven (Will Freedman) and Emma’s Gift (Keith Dryden).
Also at Kembla Grange, the NSW Racehorse Owners Association announced their champion country horse of the year for 2020/21 with the Brett Cavanough trained It’s Me winning top honours.
More on It’s Me’s NSWROA horse of the year win and her campaign to win a second ‘The Kosciuszko’ can be read by clicking here.
On Saturday, Gilgandra raced in place of Warren after the latter was washed out earlier in the week.
The six-race community program saw some good racing with 56 acceptors and Gary Lunn and Billy Cray combined for a winning race-to-race double in the second and third events.
The duo had their first winner when Dissisoul comfortably won the 1000m Maiden Plate before Jarmanagic gained a run as an emergency and proved too strong for his rivals in the 1000m Benchmark 50 Handicap, winning by 2.68 lengths.
In another good story out of the meeting, it was pleasing to see Brooke Stower make a welcome return from a broken back, finishing second and third in two of her four rides.
Goulburn raced on Saturday, and while the meeting was dominated by Sydney-based trainers, the Kurt Goldman trained Black Wand returned to racing, winning the 1400m Open Handicap.
After an eight-week freshen up, Black Wand hit the line nicely for jockey, Adrian Layt, winning strongly in the heavy eight conditions.
In picnic racing, Gunnedah hosted the final meeting of the NSWPRA 2020/21 season, with the Peter Reynolds trained Drummed Out securing top spot on the NSW Picnic Champion Series leader board.
More on the top 12 and the $50,000 final, which is scheduled to be held at Coonamble on October 10, can be viewed here.
As far as the racing went at Gunnedah, Brent Evans rode a treble, combining with Gavin Groth for a double on Epic Decisions and Danspur, while his third came aboard the Troy O’Neile prepared Capitulate.
Ricky Blewitt secured a double, winning on the Brett Robb trained It’s in My Blood and the Peter Sinclair prepared Let Him Fly.
In the final country meeting on Saturday, Port Macquarie hosted a six-race Sky 2 TAB program.
Tracey Bartley and apprentice Jackson Searle combined to win the Club North Haven Camden Haven Cup with Enamour.
The five-year-old wanted to lead early but was forced to sit second for most of the 1200m journey, trailing early leader Stylish Pattern.
On the home straight, Searle went for home on Enamour, finding the lead and holding off the fast-finishing pair of Lord Jaysea and Innervoice.
On Sunday, Mudgee was the only country meeting, and again the spoils were shared with seven different trainers and jockeys tasting success on the day.
The Black Nugget Winter Cup was won by Scott Singleton and Rachel Murray with Rich and Shameless taking out the 1400m Open Handicap.
The Scone galloper jumped well but trailed No Escape and Mackellar’s Love early doors, before peeling wide and holding off Mackellar’s Love in a tough finish – Fast Talking flew home for third.
It is another busy week of country racing, kicking off today with Grafton and Tamworth meetings.
Weekly racing schedule
Monday: Grafton and Tamworth.
Sunday: Gundagai and Moree.