TRAINER Robert Smerdon’s second Brierly Steeplechase victory in three years yesterday jump-started the 2012 Tabcorp May Racing Carnival.
In a spectacular exhibition of jumps racing, Smerdon trained the winners of all three jumps races yesterday, including Fareer (right) in the 3YB Scotty Stewart Brierly (3450m).
The victory gave Irish jockey Tom Ryan his first major success at Warrnambool. But it crushed the hopes of a home-town triumph, with the Bill and Symon Wilde-trained Megapixel finishing second and the Jarrod McLean-prepared Cats Fun fifth.
Megapixel had set the pace for most of the race and led to the final turn, only to be outsprinted in the final 400 metres of the 3450-metre classic. While Smerdon appeared to be heading towards his second trainer’s bonus of a Mercedes-Benz if he could win four races, he enters today knowing he can’t, despite having champion hurdler Black And Bent in the Galleywood Hurdle.
The Galleywood has attracted only eight acceptances, two short of the 10 needed to make the race count towards the bonus.
With a trainer needing four winners, including one in either today’s Galleywood Hurdle, Wangoom Handicap or tomorrow’s Warrnambool Cup or Grand Annual Steeplechase, Smerdon is out of the race because he is without runners in the Wangoom, Cup or Grand Annual.
Ballarat rival Darren Weir is favourite for the car, having produced three winners on day one and has runners in each of the four feature races to come.
Yesterday’s opening day of the carnival attracted 6180 patrons, more than 300 up on last year.
Tabcorp last night said more than $3.49 million was wagered yesterday, 22 per cent up on last year.
Some big punters made sizeable collects yesterday, with Tabcorp revealing one had $25,000 on Smerdon’s jumper Kirribilli Gold at $2.30, which won the second division of the maiden hurdle. The punter collected $57,500.