BOOKMAKERS have had the better of punters over the holiday period, with favourites failing to fire.
From the 30 races run, only seven favorites have been successful, with bookmakers’ bags brimming with money following the traditional four race meetings run in the Western District over the festive season.
Punters kicked off with one favourite winning at the pre-Christmas meeting at Colac and followed up with two favourites successful at Penshurst on Boxing Day.
Two more favourites were in the winning stall at Woodford, while three won at the Koroit meeting at Warrnambool on Sunday.
The longest-priced winner from the four meetings was Knucklemanna – a $31 chance at the Colac meeting.
FOUR-year-old mare Duecourse notched up her maiden victory and gave veteran Warrnambool trainer Bill Wilde his first win since July 2014 when she scored an impressive victory at her home track on Sunday.
Wilde, who trained successfully in partnership with his son Symon before handing in his trainer’s licence, said he was delighted to lead in a winner.
“It’s been a while between drinks,” Wilde said.
“Duecourse is only my fourth runner since I got my ticket back. She’s the only one that I’ve got in work.
“Symon took over the stable and I stood aside for a few years. Symon is doing a great job in his own right.
“I gave $10,000 for Duecourse at the 2015 Sydney Classic Yearling Sale. She was knocked down to me on one bid. She’s taken time to mature but there’s plenty of upside to her.”
Duecourse earnt $13,500 in stakemoney for her connections following the win.
TOUGH jockey Holly McKechnie will always carry the scars from the first time she rode at Penshurst after fracturing her left foot in a freak accident on the way to the barriers at the Boxing Day meeting only weeks ago.
McKechnie enters Richmond’s Epworth Hospital on Tuesday for surgery to fix the problem which may see her out of the saddle for up to three months.
“I’ve broken four small bones in the arch of my left foot which join into my toes,” the 34-year-old hoop said. “The medical terminology is a lisfarnc fracture. The injury is a huge disappointment because I had been riding really well. It’s the first time I’ve ever ridden at Penshurst. The freak accident was no one’s fault, it’s just one of those things that can happen in racing.”
McKechnie, who rode her first winner on Dangerous Reef in 1999, will have screws and wires inserted into her foot to aid the recovery.
“I’ll have to do a lot of rehab,” she said. “The best-case scenario is I’ll be back riding in two months but it could be three months. I’ll just have to wait and see how quick I recover from the operation.”
The popular hoop is no stranger to hospitals having broken both arms twice, both ankles, broken ribs and broken a collarbone in trackwork accidents or race falls during her career.
FORMER champion jockey Michael Clarke rates watching his son Michael Poy win the Koroit Cup on Sunday as one of his biggest thrills in racing.
Clarke, who won more than 50 group one races including a Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate during his illustrious career, was trackside to see Poy win his first cup on Siga La Vaca.
“It’s just wonderful for Janelle (partner) and I to be here to see Michael win the cup,” Clarke said. “Janelle and I both have health issues so just watching Michael ride is a great tonic for both of us but when it’s a country cup it’s even more special. We’ve found going around watching Michael ride at various meetings across Victoria we get the chance to catch up with so many old friends.”
Clarke won the 1986 Melbourne Cup on Al Talaq and Better Loosen Up was successful in the 1990 Cox Plate for the former champion hoop.
WARRNAMBOOL-based jockey Luke Williams put a run of outs behind him when he guided the Jenny Smith trained Just Before Dark to win a restricted race at Warrnambool on Sunday.
Williams spent months out of the saddle after sustaining ankle and hand injuries.
“It’s great to be back as a winner,” Williams said. “I’ve been putting in the hard yards but things were not going right. I hope things are about to turn around. Jenny does a great job and Just Before Dark should develop into a handy type of horse.”
Just Before Dark has won three of his 24 starts.
FORGOTTEN jockey Steven Vella made a winning return to riding aboard Caribbean Pearl in a maiden plate at Warrnambool on Sunday. Vella was having his first ride back for more than nine months after being disillusioned with the sport.
“I just gave it away because I had lost interest,” Vella said. “My wife Kylie, who trains a few, had a really nice horse in work and he snapped his leg. I reckon he was the best horse we’ve ever had. I got a bit disillusioned with being a jockey after that but I’m back on track now.”
Vella lost more than four kilograms in weight to take the winning ride on Caribbean Pearl.
WARRNAMBOOL Racing Club is seeking a new caterer following the resignation of Robert King after more than seven years in the role.
King said he had informed the club his reasons for his departure were personal but he would stay on and assist if needed in the lead up to the May Racing Carnival.
WRC chairman Nick Rule said it was disappointing that King had decided to step away from the position.
“Robert has done a great job for the club,” Rule said. “We’ll be looking at putting in another local caterer into the job.”
Expressions of interest close on January 19.
APPRENTICE jockey Teo Nugent was outed by stewards on a careless riding charge at Warrnambool on Sunday. Nugent pleaded guilty to the charge following his ride on Solitary Choice.
His suspension started at midnight on January 7 and ends midnight January 14.
Stewards took into account his guilty plea, his record, and relevant inexperience before handing down the penalty.