Willybeafactor and Byatt seal Wagga hat-trick

Bradley Vale guided the Graham Byatt trained Willybeafactor to victory in the 1200m Benchmark 58 Handicap at Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Friday. Photo: Trackpix Racing Photography.

The Graham Byatt stable continued a stellar run of form at Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Friday with Willybeafactor notching his third win in a row. 

The four-year-old was coming off good victories in both the 1200m Class One and 1200m Class Two events at Wagga and again proved too good for his Tumbarumba and Wagga trainer, storming home down the outside to win the 1200m Benchmark 58 Handicap with Bradley Vale in the saddle. 

Remarkably, Willybeafactor was backing up for his third run in as many weeks, and Byatt said it took some sort of effort to win again. 

“I tell you what, it was a huge effort. He was up another grade and three and half kilos up in weight,” Byatt said. 

“I did nothing with him, and even when he won the other day, I was light on him and didn’t do a lot of work and kept him nice and fresh.”

Byatt wasn’t too concerned about the quick turnaround and went to Wagga confident of another strong showing. 

“I went there confident, I really did,” Byatt said. 

“He is a really clean winded horse and I’ve been wanting to step him up to 1400m, and I think he will get the mile, but he has been racing so well over 1200m.

“I thought he would run a similar race; they did go quick in front, and it allowed for us back markers to get home.”

Willybeafactor has been a good commodity for those punters astute enough to find him three times on the trot, popping up at 20/1, 60/1 and 10/1 respectively.

“He has definitely improved; each grade has been a lot tougher, and he has managed to win,” Byatt said. 

Brendan Ward rode the first of the Wagga galloper’s three wins, before Vale jumped aboard, winning the last two times at the races. 

“He tries to ride for me as much as he can,” Byatt said.

“Generally, if his wife hasn’t got something in, he will ride for me, and even though I have small numbers, he has always been good to me and he has stuck by me and that’s why I stuck by him,” Byatt said.

Willybeafactor will head for a quick spell before Byatt plans his next target. 

“He will definitely have three weeks off and we will go from there,” Byatt said.

“I will have to look in the calendar. I know there’s not much on for three or four weeks, which will be alright.” 

It was a good day for the stable at Murrumbidgee Turf Club, with Real Key, who had Nick Heywood in the saddle, bouncing back to form in the 1000m Winter Sprint when finishing second and beaten a length by the Mitch Beer trained and Simon Miller ridden Logan River. 

“He is going really well. He is not a real wet tracker, but I think getting the first go at the track helped him and he hit the line good,” Byatt said.

“I was extremely happy with his run and hopefully we can get him up over the 1200m where he is better suited.”

The Tumbarumba product and 1989 VRC Grand National winning jockey only trained his first winner in 2019, but it has been onwards and upwards for the small Wagga stable that continues to produce. 

“It’s been nice to train a few winners,” Byatt said. 

“Just the four that we have in, they are a nice little crop of horses, and the confidence is high and knowing you have some well-bred horses here coming back in soon, makes it an exciting little period.

“Hopefully we can continue on with the journey a little bit.”

Byatt will be back at the races on Tuesday with Lennox Road contesting the 1175m Benchmark 58 Handicap. 

Nick Heywood takes the ride and the 60kg top weight must contend with gate 13.