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   Past News Alexandra 8th and Balnarring 10th March 2014
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Alexandra & Balnarring Reports
by Brad Best

Traffic stretches single-file through carved out glens and hollows, banking right, veering left, meandering through morning shadow. On the highways of Victoria, you can hear it, the tremors of aching engines towing freshly-waxed speedboats to lakes and seas; relentless four-wheel-drives lugging caravans to foothills and beachsides; and, in the backseat, splayed out restlessly, the sound of chirping children, pondering aloud the whereabouts of their final destination. Every year, the story repeats itself, heralding the start of another Labour Day long weekend. And, with three race meetings crammed into the space of two days, where better to spend it than at the picnic races!

On Saturday, picnic racegoers were spoilt for choice with two meetings scheduled for the start of the long weekend. In glorious conditions at Alexandra, a strong crowd turned out for the first meeting of the autumn, soaking up the last of the lingering summer heat.

From her book of five rides, Courtney Pace rode a winning double, her two wins coming in vastly contrasting fashion. Pace notched up her first win in race four, settling behind the leader on four-year-old Super Gem before taking control in the straight to win by almost a length. She completed her double in the last, dominating the 2700m race on six-year-old mare Grand Dette, the near-unbackable favourite storming home to record an 18.75-length win for trainer Gordon Strang.

In other races, Debbie Waymouth gave the kids a masterclass in riding on Royal Diva, guiding the three-year-old filly to an all-the-way win in the first. In race two, up-and-coming apprentice Amber Comb continued her successful partnership with six-year-old mare Polish Rose, driving the topweight home out wide for the pair’s third win of the season. Race three went the way of Combien, the six-year-old gelding, ridden by Clayton Douglas, making it back-to-back victories at Alexandra for trainer Barry Goodwin. While in the fifth, Goodwin notched up his second win for the day, handing the reins over to son Reece who duly saluted on Marlly, the five-year-old gelding edging out Despict in a great two-way finish.

Marlly wins the Open Hcp

Further east, there was plenty of picnic racing action on the Omeo High Plains with the annual meeting at Hinnomunjie. The feature event of the day, the Benambra Hotel “Brian Delaney” Hinnomunjie Cup, came to a thrilling conclusion with all four runners finishing within a length of each other. In the end, it was the Reg Manning-trained Guadalcanal, ridden by Matthew Corbisiero, who took out the race, just beating home stablemate Shanghai Rooster.
Once again, it was a great day for Adam Bodey who, after riding a double on Glenview Lad and Kernel, looks almost certain to claim his fourteenth consecutive jockey’s premiership. Peta Tait also had a day to remember, notching up her first two wins for the season on Chadra Boy and Phantom Flight. Grant Seccombe grabbed the remaining winner of the day on board Bemarydan, surprising $1.30 favourite Urban Gypsy in the two-horse race.

On Monday, picnic racing celebrated the day off with a return to Balnarring. In warm conditions, a typically enthusiastic Balnarring crowd made the most of the public holiday, finding shade under the bountiful eucalyptus trees around Emu Plains Reserve.
Riding honours were shared on the day with six different jockeys saluting in the winner’s enclosure. Michael Kent kick started proceedings in the first with a perfectly-timed ride on five-year-old mare Niersheim, storming past Theme Songs in the straight to win by just under half-a-length. In race two, Courtney Pace continued her successful weekend with a strong win on board Here’s To A King, hitting the front at the top of the straight and holding on ahead of the fast-finishing Break Even. In the third, punters were treated to a cracking finish with Leigh Taylor on board four-year-old gelding Flying Maverick swooping home out wide to edge out favourite Nontourage by a head.

Races four and five produced a pair of dominant victories with daylight featuring prominently in both finishes. In the fourth, Grant Seccombe dominated a capacity field on board six-year-old mare Theia, winning by five lengths; while in the fifth, Clayton Douglas went seven lengths better on favourite He’s A Tiger, pulling away on the three-year-old gelding to record a 12-length win.

After consecutive one-way races, the last produced the closest finish of the day. In an exciting three way tussle, the Reg Manning-pair of Shanghai Rooster and Guadalcanal, backing up after quinellaing the Hinnomunjie Cup, chased down the heavily-backed favourite Born This Way on the line. After carefully reviewing the photo, stewards declared five-year-old gelding Shanghai Rooster the winner, reversing the result from the Cup just two days earlier. The hard-fought victory capped off a great weekend for Peta Tait who rode three winners over two race meetings.

And so the story of another long weekend ends, back on the highway where it all began, the glaze of freshly-scuffed speedboats glistening in a sheen of light rain;

Shanghai Rooster gets up in a 3 way photo

the guzzle of four-wheel-drives running on empty; and children, hopefully, mercifully, splayed out on the backseat, asleep.

Results for Alexandra, Hinnomunjie and Balnarring . Visit the picture gallery for the days action at Alexandra and Balnarring.

Next weekend, picnic racing hits Woolamai for the final time this season. With just a handful of race meetings to go, make sure you don’t miss out on any of the picnic racing action!




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