Schmidt dominates at Grafton

The Dwayne Schmidt trained Monica’s Cigar was too good in the 1730m Maiden Plate for jockey Ben Looker. Photo: Trackside Photography.

Dwayne Schmidt had a day to remember on his home course on Saturday when winning the first three races on the card at Grafton.

It was a family affair in the first two races as he teamed up with his son-in-law Ben Looker, before combining with Allan Chau in the third race. 

Looker rode Monica’s Cigar to dominant 2.72 lengths victory in the 1730m Maiden Plate before guiding another Dubai Eagle to yet another comfortable 1.33 lengths victory in the 1125m Maiden Handicap for colts and geldings. 

Chau then made it a hat-trick of winners for the Grafton stable when Manapouri Miss overcome a wide gate, jumping from barrier 10, and winning by 0.65 of a length in the 1125m Maiden Handicap for fillies and mares. 

Schmidt joked he could have had another winner, with the stable confident ahead of their local meeting. 

“Mate, I thought I could win four, but the other two that I thought were good chances, they were both drawn in barrier 12,” Schmidt laughed. 

“That just buggered me, but one overcame the barrier (Manapouri Miss), and one didn’t.”

Monica’s Cigar was the stable’s most impressive winner on the day, with Looker sitting towards the rear of the field at the 900m before making a sweeping move to first place before the 800m marker.

The three-year-old Dreamscape filly, who started her career in Victoria, had plenty left in the tank, rounding the turn comfortably in front of her rivals before greeting the judge first.

“Her first two runs for us were pretty good and I was pretty confident she could win if she could get the extra trip,” Schmidt said.

“I put a set of blinkers on, and you had to put a line through the Coffs Harbour run; some horses can get unstuck there and it was heavy, and she never got going that day.”

The winning trainer was happy to admit that home-track advantage always gave local runners a distinct advantage.  

“I think it’s the same on any home track, you have a fair advantage,” Schmidt said.

“They are trained their every day; you are not travelling, and it all adds up.” 

Most NSW tracks have been battling the elements in recent days and while rain-affected courses are the norm at this time of year, Grafton raced on a good four on Saturday. 

“It was good, we had a bit of rain on the Wednesday, and it just took the edge off it,” Schmidt said.

“It was lovely, and it was a good surface to race, and the track played fair.”

In a good day of racing at Grafton, other winners on the six-race-program included the Jason Reilly trained and Jon Grisedale ridden Franklin Corners getting home in the 1200m Class Three Handicap. 

The penultimate event was the 1430m Class One Handicap and Our Girl Eve won a close finish for Paddy Cunningham and hoop Jodi Worley. 

The final event was the 1730m Benchmark 50 Handicap and Matthew McCudden and Luke Rolls combined to win the event with Honovi.