RACING: It was the same old story when maiden galloper Mr Eighty Eight ran second at the Gunnedah Jockey Club’s TAB meeting on Tuesday.
Trained at Taree by Joseph Burges, Mr Eighty Eight is raced by a syndicate of 16, who have had a frustrating run of minor placings with the galloper, which has finished runner-up eight times and has twice ended up in third place, from 13 starts.
Supporters with big hearts and long pockets were confident of a long-awaited breakthrough in the Mannion Drilling Maiden Plate (1400 metres) at Riverside this week but had to settle, again, for second place.
Mr Eighty Eight, starting as $3.90 second favourite, was in the leading division from the jump and briefly hit the front at the top of the long Riverside straight, but was reeled in by favourite Global Encounter ($2.50) which claimed first prizemoney of $12,480.
The only consolation for the syndicate was that Mr Eighty Eight picked up $4650 for second, which takes the galloper’s prizemoney total to slightly more than $50,000.
The day’s racing opened with the Thomson Electrical Plate (2050), in which racing “royalty” of owner Gerry Harvey and trainer Kris Lees combined to win with German-bred Zippy Power, daughter of former Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist (2014). The winner paid $4.10 on the NSW TAB.
Gerry Harvey is the principal of the mega-giant electrical empire of Harvey Norman and Lees is one of Australia’s leading trainers, having led in more than 2300 winners, which have amassed $100 million in prizemoney since his first winner in 1996.
In race 2, the James Bradford Rural City Plate (1000 metres), The Mitchell Snail ($6.80) failed to live up to its name, instead winning impressively. Foaled at Gerry Harvey’s New Zealand stud, Westbury Farm, he was described by his trainer Stephen Jones this week, as a “monster,” standing more than 17 hands. Mr Harvey is a part-owner and breeder of the galloper.
The Mitchell Snail has lineage to unbeaten Black Caviar and four-times Group 1 winner All Too Hard.
The third race, the TAB Maiden (1250 metres) was won by Scone-trained Miss Milton, ridden by emerging rider Clayton Gallagher. It was the three-year-old filly’s 12th start.
The Ultra Fleet Maiden, also over 1250 metres, went to the Hellavadancer, trained by Kris Lees in Newcastle for a syndicate of 20 owners.
In the sixth race, Muswellbrook trainer Krissie Simpkins came forward with four-year-old mare Superel ($21.50), an impressive winner of the Verdict Coffee benchmark 68 (1000 metres). Jockey Billy Cray took Superel wide on the turn, seeking the slightly firmer going on a soft 7 track, and the mare kicked strongly to win.
The victory took the mare’s prizemoney tally past $75,000.
Disappointment of the race was topweight Asherla, prepared in Newcastle by Kris Lees, one of Australia’s best trainers. Asherla was given a comfortable run to the turn but failed to finish off the race, ending up third.
After a spell of 18 weeks, Tamworth-trained Just Jacky ($15.50) returned to the track to win the Tooheys Handicap (1250 metres) after a ding-dong battle down the straight with coastal galloper The Bullring.
The winner was prepared by Theresa Stair and ridden by northern jockey Serg Lisnyy, who took Just Jacky wide at the top of the straight to wage a head-to-head battle to the line with The Bullring.
The runner-up is trained at Wyong by Kim Waugh, wife of former Test cricketer Mark Waugh.
The final race, the Kosciuszko Handicap (1400 metres), went to Hunter Valley four-year-old Intercept ($14.20), owned and trained by Justin Bowen, of Muswellbrook.