Brett Robb will take the covers off My Turn Astern when unleashing the five-year-old in Friday’s $50,000 Super Maiden at Wagga’s
It’s the first time the Southern Districts race club has hosted a Super Maiden, and the 1000m sprint won’t disappoint, with a good field of youngsters set to duke it out for the $22,000 first prize.
“I’ve not won a race at Wagga yet, but I’d like to get one down there, especially in the $50,000 maiden,” Robb told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
My Turn Astern started twice for Sydney trainer Annabel Neasham, finishing sixth at Newcastle when on debut in late 2021 before running third at Gosford in a 1200m Maiden Plate in early 2022.
The Dubbo-trained galloper will be close to two years between runs when he steps out at Wagga, but he has been seen at the trials, impressing with comfortable recent wins at Dubbo (November 7) and Wellington (November 19.
“He’s drawn well, and he’s not a bad horse,” Robb said.
“He’s had three trials for me, and I’ve basically had him in the box waiting for the right race.
“I had him in at Narromine the other day, but I had another one in there that I thought could win, and we ended up winning it, so we thought we would keep him for the right race and try and win a $50,000 one.
“I am interested to see him on race day, but with everything he does at home, he’s shown me he’s good enough to win a race like this.
“He is a big, strong horse, well-bred, and he’s worked well; we’re pretty confident.”
The Astern gelding is certainly well-bred, being out of Sansadee (x Snaadee), making him a half-brother to multiple Group 1 winner Brazen Beau (x I Am Invincible).
Robb explained that he had no idea how well-bred his galloper was until he got home from picking him up from Sydney.
“It’s a bit of a funny story,” Robb laughed.
“When I take my horses to Sydney, I stay at Steve Allam’s place in Penrith, and the bloke who runs it is Lionel Cohen, and I talk to him at least once a week about racing, and he was a trainer himself, and if I need any advice, I am always on the phone to him.
“He’s been good to me, mentoring me through training, and one day when I was there, he said, ‘throw this one in, it kept going sore,’ and it had been out for 12 months and had a good long spell, so I took him home to try him out.
“I never looked at his breeding or anything, and then, one day at home, I saw he was a half-brother to Brazen Beau, and I thought to myself, ‘If I can’t win a maiden out here with this, I’m not going that well as a trainer’.”
A minor paddock mishap delayed My Turn Astern’s return to the races, but it might have been a blessing in disguise.
“I got him in, trialled him up, and he showed a fair bit of ability,” Robb said.
“He came up pretty quickly, and after his first trial, we thought we’d give him a short time out.
“Then he had a minor paddock injury and was out a bit longer than expected, but we’ve got him back in now, and the time off did him wonders.
“Lionel even said we’ll have him back down for one of these Highways, and I don’t think he is far wrong.”
It’s not just My Turn Astern’s chances Robb likes at Wagga on Friday, with his stablemates expected to feature in their respective events.
Din (Michael Heagney, gate 1) and Wilbury (Clayton Gallagher, gate 4) will be major players in the Class Three Handicap (1000m).
The in-form Rubi Air (Clayton Gallagher, gate 8) looks well-placed in the Class Two Handicap (1200m), and Morgenstern (Clayton Gallagher, gate 7) takes on a good field in the 1200m Open Handicap.
Wilbury does look the best of the Dubbo stable’s chances, with the last-start Highway Handicap winner well-graded and drawn to figure in the small field.
“Wilbury should go pretty close,” Robb said.
“The plan was to save him for a Highway, and we had him in one last week, but he drew bad.
“I want to give him one more run before we turn him out, and this will be his fifth run this prep; he’s won his last three and done a good job.”
Robb isn’t the only Dubbo trainer making the trip to Wagga, with Clint Lundholm sending three along.
Lundholm will team up with his apprentice Ronald Simpson when starting Macchina Volante (gate 6) in the $36,000 Ted Ryder Cup (1600m), Devine Chops (gate 15) in the Super Maiden, and Hallowed Star (gate 11) in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1400m).
As always, the Wagga Christmas meeting is a good chance for racegoers to let their hair down leading into the Holidays.
For more on the meeting, click here.