A LARGE crowd gathered in warm and sunny conditions at the Bombala Racecourse on Saturday to enjoy a great afternoon of country racing.
In the $12,000 Dongwha Timbers Bombala Cup, three former winners, Sebony 2010, Back To Zero 2011 and Outside 2012 were joined by three other well performed gallopers in contesting the 2013 running of the event.
When the barriers opened in the 1200 metre dash, Jolly Joker took the lead with Mineral Deposit in close pursuit. Outside kept in close procession, Sebony was fourth and Back to Zero dropped to second last at the 700 metre mark.
As the field negotiated the infamous hill, Mineral Deposit pulled alongside to challenge Jolly Joker whilst, in what the race caller described as a “bold ride”, Apprentice Koby Jennings commenced to hunt Back To Zero three and four wide around horses to take the lead on entering the straight.
In the meantime, Sebony got an unimpeded rails run and Mineral Deposit maintained the chase. Good judges thought young Jennings had erred and “gone to early” on the favourite, however in a thrilling race, Back to Zero never wavered to prevail by two lengths from the ten year old Sebony and with Mineral Deposit in third place.
Trained by Barbara Joseph and Paul Jones, Back to Zero is raced by Peter Joseph, P Reynolds, Michael Walcott, Kevin and Jenny Casey, BC Donoghue and Garry Waters and has now won eight races in his career.
Sebony proved he is on track for wins during this preparation and, along with the others, will probably contest races like the Snake Gully Cup at Gundagai on November 15, the Adaminaby Cup on November 23 or the Cooma Cup on December 7.
Race 1 on Saturday was The Murphy's Transport & Building Supplies, Village Ford Maiden Handicap over 900 metres. Sapphire Coast trainer Bruce Stewart made the trip up the mountain worthwhile when Miss Sicily(NZ), a mare he trains for himself, took out the event.
With the four horse field having travelled in pairs until entering the straight, a real battle ensued when they drew four abreast however, Koby Jennings was able to guide Miss Sicily(NZ) to win by 1.3 lengths from the Canberra trained Fill The Glass and Super City ($2Fav) was third.
With there originally being a field of five starters in the race-book for Race 1, it was unfortunate that first starter Whistle Binkie was scratched after dislodging the jockey just after leaving the enclosure.
The trend regrettably continued when, at the barriers for Race 2, The West End Estate Wines Benchmark 45 Hcp, the seven horse field was dwindled to five when two horses were scratched after becoming fractious in the barrier structure.
With local interest in the Joseph & Jones trained Zakia, and Nereus having been transported from Sale in Victoria, the disappointment of the connections was understandable when they did not get to contest the event.
However, the five remaining horses got their chance and in a keenly contested sprint over 1100 metres the John Marzol, Moruya trained, Drama Lodge ($2.90 fav), ridden by Tash Burleigh, prevailed by 2.8 lengths from Flying Blue Girl and Midnite Crusade back in third.
Race 3 was the RSL Club, Monaro Wool, Schute Bell Maiden Plate over 1200 metres and saw seven runners head to the barriers.
Starting from the outside gate, Jewel Wonder ($1.50 fav), ridden by Roly Saxton, was able to cross the field easily to lead and, although joined for a short distance by Zippin' By, was never in danger and went on to win effortlessly by two lengths from There is No Drama, who tried valiantly, and Zippin' By who stuck on for third placing.
Jewel Wonder is trained at the Sapphire Coast by Ray “Nugget” Wheatley and is raced by R Dwyer, “Budgie” Switzer and Peter Ubrihien along with Howard, Robert and John Blacker.
The five year old mare, having only her fourth start on Saturday, had been placed second on two previous occasions and should win more races given the ease of her victory.
Race 4 was the Wilton Logging Pty Ltd Benchmark 45 Handicap over 1400 metres and saw a field of nine runners head to the gates.
Local interest was with Bob Kimber's Michael's Gift whilst the Joseph & Jones stable had Our Cracker lining up. Also in the field was God's Reward ($5.50), trained at Queanbeyan by Frank Cleary and ridden by fledgling apprentice Jason Devrimol, yet to ride a winner in his chosen career.
When the gates opened Devrimol made his intentions clear as he went forward to lead keeping a gap of over two lengths to Our Cracker, Short Stay hugged the rails improving whilst Michaels Gift had been shown no favours when caught wide for the first 800 metres.
God's Reward retained his lead into the straight and proved too strong to go on and win from Our Cracker, who tried very hard, and Short Stay, trained at Cooma by Georgie Boucher, who finished third. The $3.40 favourite, Have One On Me, finished seventh.
Young Devrimol, who has recently become indentured to Tony Sergi at Queanbeyan, was given the ride by Cleary who had been impressed by his positive demeanour and obliging nature around their Queanbeyan training precinct.
The winner is raced by owners including the Estate of the Late Jim Murphy, businessmen Alex Smith, John McIntyre and Dennis Condon along with the trainer Frank Cleary.
The last race of the day was the Merimbula Lake Oysters, Landmark Class 1 & Maiden Plate over 1700 metres which saw a field of seven horses head to the starting gates which were on the track adjacent to the public viewing area.
When the gates opened, the grey gelding Apocketfullofcash clearly had his mind elsewhere, walked out of the gates and was left at least five lengths behind the second last horse.
As Wild Hostess took the field down the hill and past the 1000 metre mark young Koby Jennings aboard the $2.60 favourite Piste thought something was amiss and pulled that horse out of the race.
As the field climbed the hill, Wild Hostess held the lead but with Acratus challenging in second and with Waterviews under Roly Saxton improving.
In the meantime the experienced Kevin Sweeney guided Praise ($3.80) along the rail whilst Taylor Lovelock-Wiggins had commenced a move on Apocketfullofcash, overtaking horses to their outside to reach and challenge for the lead at the 400 metre mark.
However, as is always the case, along the rails proved the shortest journey and the evergreen Sweeney proved the master as he prevailed on Praise by two lengths from Waterviews who chased hard as did Acratus who finished third. Apocketfullofcash finished a close up forth, his connections ruing his tardy getaway.
Praise is trained by Georgie Boucher at Cooma for herself and Michael Flanagan.
Racing in the district continues with The Adaminaby Cup race-meeting on November 23, with the feature race boasting prize money of $12,000. The Cooma Cup and Sundowners Cup both with prize money of $12,500 will be held on December 7.