by Brad Best
With the Melbourne Cup carnival done and dusted for another year, it was business as usual at the picnics on Saturday with a huge crowd returning to the countryside for the first Yea meeting of the season. On the track, it was a great day for jockeys Courtney Pace and Craig Kirkpatrick who both rode doubles. The two stalwarts of the picnic racing scene showed all their experience throughout the afternoon, handling a track that played noticeably fast down the renowned “outside lane” at Yea.
Courtney Pace’s flying start to the season continued in the first, dominating a good old-fashioned two-horse race on board hot favourite Drawn Conclusion. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Pace who was forced to steady her mount in the straight after the four-year-old mare became spooked by the crowd. With punters holding their breath, Pace eased up on the line to win by just over a length, significantly reducing the lead that she had gathered halfway down the straight. Pace brought up her double in the fourth, taking the reins of seven-year-old mare Fill The Fridge before marching away with a one-length victory for trainer Gordon Strang. Pace’s double further extends her lead in the jockey’s premiership, ensuring that Adam Bodey has something to catch when he returns to defend his title.
Craig Kirkpatrick matched Pace’s efforts with a double of his own, showcasing his knowledge of the Yea racetrack with two superbly-timed rides. He rode his first winner in race three on board six-year-old gelding Despict, battling it out with Reece Goodwin on Cash Caddy in a classic two-horse war down the straight. As the two pulled away from the rest of the field, it was Kirkpatrick who came home the better, winning by half-a-length on the even-money favourite. In the final race of the day, Kirkpatrick teamed up with Medal Day to bring up his double. Sitting just behind the leaders, Kirkpatrick reaped the rewards of a hot pace, blowing away his rivals in the straight to win by a massive ten lengths on the impressive seven-year-old gelding.
In other races, Michael Kent made the most of his only ride of the day, dominating race two on favourite Princess Wings. The five-year-old mare, making her first appearance at the picnics, proved way too strong over the mile, driving to the line for an incredible eleven-length win. Reece Goodwin rode the other winner of the day, Clovelly Hill, in race five, producing a perfectly-timed ride on the five-year-old gelding to catch third placegetter Atbarrakee in the straight before holding on to victory ahead of the fast-finishing Marmegleon.
Needless to say, it was a fantastic day at Yea, helped in part by another encouraging crowd at the most fan-friendly venue on the picnic racing circuit. Next week, Healesville host their second meeting of the year following their successful, albeit wet, Derby Day meeting earlier in the month. With the long-range forecast looking more promising this time around, it’s sure to be an enjoyable day out on the banks of the Watts River. We look forward to seeing you there!
Results for Yea. Visit the picture gallery for the days action at Yea.