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H A W K E S B U R Y
R A C E
C L U B
Polytrack near Perfect
The Good Vella
STORIES AND SNAPS FROM HAWKESBURY'S FEATURE MEETING
THE FINISHING TOUCHES ON A NEW TRACK
THE YOUNG TRAINER BREAKING NEW GROUND
Welcome to the third edition of the Hawk Horse, the seasonal newsletter of Hawkesbury Race Club.
VOLUME 3 [AUTUMN] #THEHAWKHORSE
The Autumn Racing riches thrilled the partygoers, participants and loyal punters in Sydney with the Golden Slipper and Championships, including the lucrative Provincial Championships Series, before Hawkesbury proudly played host to the carnival finale on Stand Alone Saturday - the Club's pinnacle meeting. To complete a stirring season of success for HRC, the exceptional Polytrack training surface is within the home straight of construction, to the delight and excitement of our track team and Hawkesbury trainers. All in all, it's a Golden time for Hawkesbury Race Club.
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LUCKY THIRTEEN. IT WAS THE THIRTEENTH STAND ALONE SATURDAY FOR HAWKESBURY ON APRIL 28, WITH PROMISES OF FASHION, FESTIVITIES, FOOD, FABULOUS MUSIC AND OF COURSE, THE VERY BEST HORSEFLESH. AND FOR THE THIRTEENTH TIME, HAWKESBURY DELIVERED.
A fitting finale to the ludicrous Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, the industry turned its focus to Hawkesbury on the last Saturday of April for TAB Stand Alone Saturday. Highlighted by four group races, with the XXXX Gold Rush being run at Listed level for the first time, Hawkesbury became holy ground for nine races, one hundred and thirty horses, twenty eight jockeys, fifty trainers, over five hundred owners and eight thousand race goers. From a Cup to a Crown, Guineas to a Gold Rush, racing reigned supreme on Hawkesbury's greatest day.
THE KING'S CUP Kingsguard gave Brenton Avdulla plenty of reasons to smile with a strong win in the feature G3 Livamol Hawkesbury Gold Cup for Team Hawkes. The leading Sydney hoop enjoyed the highlight of his career thus far this season with a stirring win on Estijaab in the Golden Slipper, before a "dry spell" forced a painful reminder of the ups and downs of racing. "It's been a frustrating month - I think I had about 40-50 outs after the Slipper," Avdulla told Sky Thoroughbred Central. Kingsguard ($9) forged past the Waterhouse & Bott favourite Ecuador ($4) to win by threequarters of a length with McCreery ($10) a close third.
“HE IS AN HONEST BUGGER THAT KEEPS GIVING HIS BEST, AND HE WAS ALWAYS GOING TO BE TOUGH TO BEAT ONCE I GOT THERE...IT IS JUST GOOD TO GET BACK IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE..."
Carrying the navy and gold silks of the Cambridge-based Windsor Park Stud, who stand the gelding's sire Rip Van Winkle, Kingsguard earned his first stakes success, having been runner-up to Arbeitsam in the Listed Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury in August last year.
"He's been knocking on the door and it was good to see everything fall into place today." said co-trainer, Michael Hawkes.
Kingsguard now boasts the very creditable race record of five wins, five seconds, six thirds and $390,033 in prizemoney from 27 career starts.
"He jumped and travelled, followed Ecuador, stalking him and he was in a lovely rhythm and drawn away to score a good win."
"I'm rapt for his owners Windsor Park. They've been very patient with this horse.
The irony of Pecan's stunning win in the G3 Godolphin Crown was far too obvious to ignore for the delighted connections of the mare.
For Josh Parr, the win was a particularly satisying one given the association he enjoyed with the mare's sire, Skilled.
"Pecans is a former Godolphin horse and Josh (Parr) used to do a bit of riding for that stable,’’ Trainer Joe Pride said.
“It’s great to get a black type win on Pecans for my ‘man’ Skilled as he was my first Group 1 winner,’’ Parr said referring to his winning effort on Skilled in the 2010 Champagne Stakes.
A relatively small, plain bay mare, Pecans was one of hundreds of racing prospects sold each year by the Global breeding and racing powerhouse. Snapped up by James Moss' syndication Tricolours Racing for just $50,000, Pecans easily accounted for her purchase price having now won four races; two at stakes level, run second in the other two races and earned nearly $250,000 prizemoney.
Like Pecans, Skilled was moved on after standing for Darley until 2017, when the son of Commands relocated to Riverbank Farm in Benalla. Jason Walsh, racing manager for Godolphin, praised the efforts of the Pride Team and Tricolours syndicate.
“I just wanted to see her come out and run a good race today,’’ Pride said.
"Being a homebred for Sheik Mohammed, winning a group race for a big group of owners is part of His Highness' passion" said Walsh.
“She has been working well and I expected her to be competitive because she is so genuine but to see her come out and win a Listed race first-up under a big weight is a bonus."
Godolphin went close to winning their own race with the talented Ghisoni, who rallied well to hold second in front of Waller's race favourite Invincibella.
PARR & PECANS STEAL GODOLPHIN'S CROWN
“SHE HAS NEVER RUN A BAD RACE FOR ME, FINISHING NO WORSE THAN SECOND IN HER PAST NINE RUNS. SHE IS SO HONEST AND STRAIGHTFORWARD,” [JOE PRIDE]
GOOD GUINEAS, BRO! It may have taken an extensive list of experiments and changes with gear, but Sambro finally delivered on his early promise with a defining win in the G3 Blacktown Workers Group Hawkesbury Guineas. The Waller-trained gelding fought bravely to deny hot favourite Victorem, giving rider Josh Parr a feature stakes-double following the win of Pecans in the G3 Godolphin Crown. “We just had to get the gear right on him," Waller’s racing manager Charlie Duckworth said. "I don’t know how many gear changes he has had, but we might have it right now. “He has a blindfold, a barrier blanket and norton bit ... it has never been that he couldn't gallop, it was just getting him to show it." Parr saved ground behind the leaders with cover for most of the race, saving something for the finish where Victorem, finishing powerfully from the rear of the field, challenged strongly.
“My first plan was to press forward on the horse from his ‘sticky’ draw,’’ Parr said. “But with all gear he has on at the barriers he came out slow. However, it ended up being perfect as we got into a nice position with the run of the race." After 15 starts and 10 major gear changes, including being gelded, the Waller team found the right mix. “He is finally coming of age, working it all out and he knows now not to over-race. His barrier manners have improved enormously since we fitted him with the blindfold" added Duckworth. “I’m sure he would have won a lot more than just two races if (his manners were right) a year ago. We have got his gear right and he can switch off now in his races which gives him the chance to show what he can really do.’’ Sambro was bred to be a black type winner, being by Champion Sire Fastnet Rock from from stakesplaced Encosta de Lago mare Eau de Joie, a halfsister to Golden Slipper winner Polar Success.
A lower class and sharper gear gave Glenall the winning edge in the Listed XXXX Gold Rush, providing leading jockey and trainer combo Hawkes & Avdulla with a feature stakes double. Glenall had previously found himself racing among the best sprinters in the G1 Galaxy and G1 Oakleigh Plate in Melbourne, but faced a weaker field here. The son of Redoute's Choice sported blinkers for the first time, a move that provided "the key" to the horse's focus.
Once again, Michael Hawkes was quick to praise the efforts of his Golden Slipper-winning Jockey. “Brenton took the bull by the horns and jumped him out and put him in a nice position...he was nice and balanced which helped get the best out in him,” Hawkes said. “When he got across and got a bit of cover I thought he was in a beautiful spot just off the speed but when he got to the corner the grey horse (Spending To Win) kicked up inside him and pressured him to do more work. “To Brenton’s credit he didn’t panic and he nursed him.” Glenall had to work hard for the win, jumping from an awkward barrier and being caught three-wide without cover, but found enough to hold out Snowden's Spending To Win and O'Shea's Kuro. "The worst thing was the awkward barrier. There’s only one corner but you still need luck and he was threedeep facing the breeze, doing it tough, but he outclassed them today" praised Hawkes. The heavily supported favourite Tango Rain enjoyed a lovely run for Jean Van Overmeire but battled to finish fourth.
THE HAWKES' GOLD RUSH
TAB CLARENDON STAKES
It was a hard watch for punters on the even-money favourite Graff, who had veteran jockey Kerrin McEvoy hard at work to keep in touch when approaching the home turn. But a defiant streak in the colt and impressive turn of foot saw Graff turn imminent defeat into an improbable win by edging out Mickey Blue Eyes ($18) and early leader Stunts ($4.20) in a thrilling threehorse finish with less than a half length separating them. Even trainer Kris Lees was in awe of the performance. “I honestly thought the race was over but I liked the way he really dug deep and attacked the line.’’ admitted Lees.
Graff is raced by successful owner Alan Bell, with his famous red and white striped livery worn by champions Grand Armee and Schillaci, and more recently the blue-blooded speedster Deep Field.
RICHMOND CLUB PROVINCIAL STAYERS FINAL Richard Freedman unleashed a powerful star of the future in the shape of Roman Son, an athletic brown gelding with an electric sprint. The final race on the card was one of the most popular betting races across Australia for the day, with the TAB recording heavy bets on the $1.75 favourite, who held three-quarters of the market for the race. “He’s got a little bit of attitude which is really good. My only concern was that he’d over-do it a bit in the run but he found his happy momentum and felt good...He’s got plenty left in the tank and there’s plenty of upside.” said winning rider, Tye Angland. Roman Son could be considered a "local", bred and raised by Bart Cumming's legendary Princes Farm of Castlereagh.
BLAKES MARINE HANDICAP The pocket rocket Siren's Fury had little market support and flew under the radar for tipsters and jockeys alike, as Jason Collet slipped along the inside to deny the well-tried Stonebrook and Godolphin's pair Gaulois and Philosophy. The Jason Coyle-trained filly started at the healthy odds of $16, but won with her ears pricked to the delight of her jovial connections. Siren's Fury had not raced since January, placing third in a benchmark 80 at Randwick when beaten as favourite. The daughter of Myboycharlie would again surprise punters at her next start in Scone, winning her first stakes race, the G3 Dark Jewel Classic, at $17.
WALLER ARMY ROLLS INTO TOWN Sydney's dominant Waller stable made the most of Hawkesbury's big meeting saddling 19 horses across the 9 races. Kiwi import Up 'N' Rolling made it two from two over the 1500m when dropping in grade to the Hawkesbury Gazette benchmark 84 handicap. Tye Angland would also score his second winner from the absence of Kerrin McEvoy, who was stood down by the club doctor after the second race. Wins to Sambro and Up 'N' Rolling saw Waller post his 139th Sydney metro winner, well clear of rival James Cummings on 73 wins.
"HUME HIGHWAY HERO" KNOWS BEST Danny Williams has made a habit of winning TAB Highway Handicaps and kept the ball rolling with hot favourite She Knows taking the first race of the day for Blake Shinn. Trained in Goulburn, the daughter of Denman pounced from the outside gate to sit alongside leader Bon Allen, before powering away in the straight to score by nearly three lengths. "She's been out of sorts a bit, she's not her normal self. Since returning (from a spell) she's been very irritated," Williams said. The hormonal spell didn't stop the filly from progressing stylishly to graded company at her next start in Scone, finishing second at listed level in the Denise's Joy Stakes.
They might have sung out of tune and quite off the beat, but the crowds at Stand Alone got behind HRC's own Nicole Hulett in singing the national anthem. Nicole works full time with the Race Club Motel as a receptionist, but has a passion for singing and performing to compliment her natural talents with events, and is a familiar face at Hawkesbury's race days when hosting sponsors.
Autumn race wear blends practicality with presentation - keeping warm and comfortable with enough style and sophistication to stand out from the crowd. Our best dressed Lady & Gentleman on April 28, as judged by celebrity hair guru Joh Bailey, had the perfect mix of Autumnal trends with traditional race day attire. Neil Carpenter, one of Australia's most successful Fashions on the Field competitors, once again stole the show with his windowpane three-piece, whilst Khristina Vasko's complete look topped by a fur sash, rich maroon skirt and white bonnet was the judges favourite from the start.Â
THE HOME STRETCH
The Numbers 3500 tonnes of Polytrack 4000m of Rail 7.2m Wide 1960m Circuit
The completion date for major projects are often dependent on who you ask. But for Hawkesbury's dedicated team of Polytrack Professionals, the answer to the burning question may finally be crystal clear. From "in the pipeline, near future, next five years, next year, six months", and now, "within weeks". The concept, research, development and construction of the synthetic training surface has been a 10 year progression - with CEO Greg Rudolph hoping to have the first horses work on the track by mid-June. "Quote" With the laying of the asphalt layer, the final layer of Poly - the composite material that covers the surface, is being spread as this article is typed. "Quote". From there, just the crystal white plastic rail will complete the work of art for the crews of Abax Contracting, Mostyn Copper Group and Martin Collins International. "It's an outstanding step for our training facilities, and I've got trainer's lined up itching to be the first to put hooves on (the Polytrack)" said track manager, Jeff Haynes. "The drainage is second to none, making it the perfect all-weather surface for working horses. It will be used for three-quarter pace work or faster, and kept very clean and maintained by my team".
ROTARY'S RECORD RACE DAY
A late Autumn Thursday meeting saw Windsor Rotary Group’s charitable expectations smashed for their fifth annual race day. A record $54,498 was raised throughout the day, with proceeds benefitting the Children’s Medical Research Institute, Children’s Cancer Institute and Hawkesbury-Colo Meals on Wheels. Hawkesbury Race Club’s vice chairman Sid Kelly OAM, an active member of the Windsor Rotary and past president, was the emcee for the afternoon and was delighted with the community response. “It is our most successful race day in five renewals and a fantastic result for all involved,” said Kelly. Fellow Hawkesbury Race Club board member, John Gollan, another past president of the Windsor Rotary branch, said the support from local businesses made the fundamental difference. “We are fortunate to have the support of local businesses Turtle Nursery and Landscape Supplies, Abax Contracting, Windsor RSL, PF Formation Sand and Concrete, Irresistible Pools and Spas, Grange Growing Solutions, Hawkesbury Equine Veterinary Centre and J.K Williams Contracting. “These organisations have been loyal supporters of Rotary Windsor and as race sponsors, we hope they were able to enjoy the full hospitality of our race club with a winner or two” commented Gollan. Windsor Rotary was also proud to support Windsor High School’s P&C and their own Windsor Rotary Youth Foundation Trust. Several of Hawkesbury Race Club’s 25 meetings a year are dedicated to charities, raising both funds and awareness whilst affording the opportunity to give back to the community that supports it.
One Good Vella
The obsessive ambition to conquer Australia's premier races with teams of blue-blooded horses create the drive behind the majority of trainers who chase the racing dream. Matt Vella might be living his racing dream, but he isn't chasing. "I'm not really wanting to just train" he admits, strolling around the spotless training base of his new master, the venerable Sir Owen Glenn. "I'm happy to be breaking and pre-training. I prefer to be working with young horses". He doesn't come to the track at 3am to beat the traffic, he's there to tend to his handful of rachorses, pretrainers and the breakers with a dedication that he calls "the daily grind". Vella's been the making of a few good young ones, too. "I broke in Overreach and Skilled, both G1 winners at 2 " he says, with a hint of confidence amongst his modesty.
Finding haven at Hawkesbury
Having a superb affinity with the education of future racehorses has kept him in good company, and under some of Racing's most influential employers. A "Castlereagh boy", he grew up down the road from Princes Farm and only ever wanted to work with horses. "I've worked for Darley, then with top trainers Bart Cummings, Peter Snowden, Tim Martin and more recently, Brad Widdup".
"There are four grass and eight sand yards which I use for my racehorses and pre-trainers.
Widdup added an enviable collective of the country's best yearlings with purchases at the Magic Millions and Inglis sales this year, all destined to be the latest students of Vella's four to five week breaking academy.
"They just love it, they can move around, stretch, enjoy the sunshine. It keeps them happy".
"I make sure the breaking process is as comfortable (for the horse) as possible, teaching balance, flexion and to be 'soft' in the mouth and accepting of the bit".
"This is Bella Vella, my little star" he introduces.
For the big boss, Matt has played a hand in the making of Sir Owen's latest stars Pure Elation and Comin' Through. "Comin' Through is Criterion's little brother by Fastnet Rock, who ran second in the Doncaster, and Pure Elation has to be one of the best fillies in the country at the moment after a dominant win in the Percy Sykes (Stakes) at Randwick". Glenn Haven Horse Farm, formally McEvoy Mitchell's Kildalton Park, can host seventy horses with two barns, day yards and small grass enclosures; built along the border of Hawkesbury's course proper and a short walk to the track on horseback. "I'm incredibly lucky and proud to call Glenn Haven my base" said Vella, as he gave the grand tour of the upgraded facilities. "We've got a pool and a treadmill going in, with two dry (exercise) walkers and 'decked out' units for my staff on site.
Among the dozing horses is a near-black mare with a broken blaze and uncanny name.
"She's a fast horse and can run impressive sectionals, but now she has won at Wyong she has a higher benchmark so I'll have to take her to town (Metropolitain level)". Bella Vella (below) formed the second half of what was, in some respects, a regrettable first quinella for Matt with hot favourite Just Got Lucky denying Bella at Kembla Grange in February. "I would have preferred not to have run them both in the same race, but it’s hard to find suitable Benchmark 65s around that distance, and Kembla was an easier option than Canterbury (the night before)”.
Just Got Lucky was a handy addition for Vella when rewarded for his horsemanship by astute racing guru Carmel Size, the wife of successful Hong Kong trainer John Size and daughter of hall of fame trainer, Neville Begg. “Just Got Lucky did his previous racing in Victoria, and Carmel was thinking about retiring him before deciding to give him to me to train". Vella's other horse in full work, Golden Organic (left), is a striking grey gelding with an arrogance to match his handsome looks. "He's a handful and had his share of problems, but still capable of winning good races". Two handlers are needed to parade the gelding, who stuck on gamely for fourth behind John Thompson's smart filly Sweet Deal at Hawkesbury on May 10. "He should have run third really, Thompson's filly hung out under pressure and hindered his run". At 26, Matt Vella has been more than just a successful breaker. A short stint as a jockey saw him win the Wyeera Cup at Bong Bong with Onyegin, and he remained undefeated as an amateur boxer when at peak fitness. Aside from Racing, there are not one, but two girls on Vella's mind. "My daughters are my world, my joy, I live for them" he says proudly. Two cheeky faces, of Natalie, 6, and Skye, 5, are the vibrant wallpaper of Vella's phone. With the love of a close family and a sturdy base, Vella is content to follow his journey. "I'm a big believer that hard work builds success, on and off the track". The hard work paid off, and at Hawkesbury, Vella has found his haven.
90 stallholders turned Hawkesbury Race Club into an extensive jungle of gardening paradise for the Collector's Plant Fair from April 7-8, the thirteenth annual edition of Australia's most popular rare plant event. Plants, pickles, pots, collectibles, books, treats and perfectly roasted coffee delighted fans of flora and fauna. Events co-ordinator Alison Weir said the fair attracted over 15,000 people for the weekend. "It is always a hugely popular event that brings interest from all ages and demographics" she said.
TRACK CHAT[AUTUMN] THE SINGLETON SEASON OF WINNERS
JERRY'S BIG JOURNEY PAYS OFF Chinese-born apprentice Qin Yong is certainly seeing plenty of the Australian countryside. The 28-year-old jockey, known fondly by his peers as "Jerry", has now ridden three winners, the latest on Joey’s Destiny at Dubbo. He had the $3 favorite away smartly from the barrier, took up the running and was never headed. Qin Yong’s 4kg claim proved decisive, lessening Joey’s Destiny’s weight to 59kg. Apprenticed to Brad Widdup, "Jerry" scored his first win on Azzie’s Ready (above) at the Wellington Boot meeting on April 8, and 12 days later scored on his master’s horse Boyer at Canberra. It won't be long before we see that familiar smile riding a winner at Hawkesbury!
Hawkesbury's leading trainer of 2016/17, Scott Singleton, looks set to clinch the local premiership again this season with an impressive run of winners on home turf. They included a breakthrough victory for the consistent Image Neat, a hulking grey gelding who benefitted from an expertly-timed ride by Bobby El-Issa to break his maiden over 1300m. Singleton isn't afraid to travel his horses across the countryside, and has now trained 28 winners, 8 of those coming at Hawkesbury.
QUITE THE UNEXPECTED WINNER FOR GREEN Peter Green produced an excellent training performance to win with Quite Unexpected, who was resuming after a mandatory ban following a bleeding attack when he last raced at Queanbeyan last September. He gave him two trials to get him ready first-up, and he did a good job to score at $9 in spite of laying in under pressure in the straight. Wyong debutant Gold Codes was all the rage, going to the barrier as a solidly backed $1.90 favorite, but it was veteran hoop Grant Buckley and Quite Unexpected who beat the $8.50 chance Fruitful Warrior and another Hawkesbury representative, Terry Croft’s Calaway Dancer ($26). The win was made more special for Pete, with his father Peter Snr (below) and brother Clinton sharing ownership in the son of Casino Prince.
WIDDUP CLEARS THE AIR WITH LOVANI Brad Widdup has enjoyed a remarkable start to his training career, and almost scaled to new heights with the "controversial" galloper Lovani (above) in G3 The Chairman's Handicap at Doomben. Hitting the front in on the turn and holding off all challengers bar the 150/1 bolter, Lovani went down to Anton En Avant in the shadows of the post to just miss the Group 3 win. The mare was at the centre of the Aquanita Scandal that tarnished the fragile image of Racing Victoria's integrity, with Greg Nelligan caught red handed treating Lovani on Turnbull Stakes day, prompting the groundbreaking investigation. Two starts prior to her Doomben placing, Lovani had been the dominant winner on her new home turf over 2000m when a short-priced favourite, at her fourth start for Widdup. She followed up by doing her best in unsuitably firm ground to run fifth in the Hawkesbury Gold Cup behind Kingsguard. Widdup's first stakes success came with 2YO colt Sandbar for major supporter Damion Flower in the Listed Lonhro Plate. The Snitzel colt went on to run 8th the G1 Golden Slipper at Rosehill.
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PHOTO CREDITS MARK BRADLEY & RAFAL KONTRYM [BRADLEYPHOTOS.COM.AU] GEORGIE BERESFORD & JOSH MCDONALDÂ
The Hawk Horse is proudly made "in house" by the Hawkesbury Race Club team.
The Hawk Horse is Hawkesbury Race Club's seasonal newsletter : with stories, snaps and behind the scenes access to the premier provincial ra...
Published on May 17, 2018
The Hawk Horse is Hawkesbury Race Club's seasonal newsletter : with stories, snaps and behind the scenes access to the premier provincial ra...