Track Watch: Another classic country cup congress

LET me start this week’s column with a tribute to Dean Benson for his wonderful coverage of the both the Narooma Cup and Moruya Cup meetings over the past fortnight.

His back page features in the Friday edition of the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner before each meeting were full of insight regarding the major players, and his reports in each of the post-race Wednesday editions were interesting and comprehensive, in both words and pictures covering all aspects of both great day’s racing as well as the social aspect.

I really enjoyed his two-page photographic gallery with explanatory notes of the stars of the day, being the horses and jockeys, in Wednesday’s editions, as well as a further page focusing on the race day patrons, and of course his back page feature regarding winning trainer Paul Murray.

Thank you, Dean, for another job well done.

The Moruya Jockey Club has clearly been blessed by the weather gods, not once but twice, after record heat wave conditions prevailing before each meeting but abating thankfully on each race day, ensuring massive crowds were able to enjoy the days in comfort and in great community spirit.

The day kicked off well for the locals when Mark Macdonald’s Abishadow was too good for her rivals at just her second start after a three-month spell and it looks like Mark and owners, the Graingers, have a good one on their hands – a sentiment I reported in October last year when she debuted with a short-head second at Nowra. 

Jeff Penza had the ride that day and struck with her again on Monday for the clear-cut win in the Maiden (1017m) Plate.

A three-way photo finish followed in the Class Two sprint, going the way of John Marzol’s Mineral Deposit ridden by James Geppert, a short neck ahead of visitor and race favourite Mac Chois with Luke Pepper’s Zuccherina just a head behind in third, all in a fantastic battle to the line.

Mark Macdonald, the Graingers and Jeff Penza just missed duplicating the win by Abishadow by a long neck when Wilveranj came in second behind visitor Charged Up in the Maiden (1207m) sprint. 

We’ve all been waiting and hoping that Wilveranj would break his Maiden status at any moment, and that moment might be his next outing, based on his very good consistent form.

Shoalhaven Heads visitor Buttsworthwhile claimed victory right on the line in the Benchmark 60 sprint but the eye-catcher from a local perspective came from Rod Howes’ lightly raced five-year-old gelding Dad’s Cash who finished a mere short neck behind in second, with Neil Perryman aboard, in another exciting three-way photo finish.

The Class Three (1425m) which followed went the way of Queanbeyan-based Spanish Shoes, leading in a visitor’s trifecta, with Luke’s Magic Franco just missing the placings in fourth.

It was an unexpected but wonderful result for Colbey Hill when her seven-year-old gelding Big Red Cat held on strongly by almost a length to take out the Moruya Town Plate at double-figure odds, ahead of Matt Stephens’ Domidor in second.

Well done, Colbey, once again for another home track win.

Kembla-based Paul Murray made it a feature Cup double when his four-year-old gelding Fair Nation repeated his Narooma Cup win when taking out the Moruya Cup (1937m). 

Luke’s Gregory’s Fortress took the lead in the straight but faded late in the shadows of the post to be relegated to third behind Dolphi’s Boy.

The tables turned back in favour of our locals when Lynda Bundy’s Moorings Magic, ridden by James Geppert, refused to give in with a near all-the-way win in the Benchmark 60 mile, a long head in front of Tommisparkle and Greg Backhouse’s Briefcase Benny just behind in third.

It was a great day for our local gallopers on a great track, in front of a great crowd in great weather conditions and may there be many more for all of us to enjoy and support.

On Wednesday at the city meeting at Kembla Grange, Luke’s Freetoair just missed completing her hat-trick when finishing a heartbreaking second, after leading up the straight and being collared on the line by Mark De Montfort’s Set Go in a very strong Benchmark 70 sprint. 

I hope Luke has earmarked the Bega Town Plate over the same distance for her next outing.

Chicka Pearson, John Peiti, Lynda Bundy and Brett Jones had runners at Goulburn yesterday and a small but strong team of five Moruya runners step out at Canberra today, including John Marzol’s Grey Drama (race three) and Peter Afflick’s Peekay (race eight).

Until next week, good luck and good punting.

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