TOP jumper Bit Of A Lad has gone to the spelling paddock for a well-deserved break after the six-year-old registered strong victories in the Australian and Thackeray Steeplechases in May and July.
Ciaron Maher, who trains in partnership with David Eustace, said Bit Of A Lad would return for feature jumping races including the Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase next year.
"We've decided to give Bit Of A Lad a break," Maher said. "Bit Of A Lad has had a huge year. His efforts to win the Australian and the Thackeray were sensational. I'm looking forward to next year with him because in jumping terms he's a young jumper and he's improved so much this season.
"We'll set him for the Grand Annual Steeplechase in 2021 on the back of his fourth placing in this year's race and it's a race I feel he could win. We want to give him every chance to be ready for the Annual. He'll kick off his 2021 jumps campaign early to have him ready for the Annual."
Meanwhile, Maher said his star jumper, reigning Grand Annual Steeplechase winner Ablaze, was on track to contest the Grand National Hurdle at Sandown this Sunday and the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat on August 23. Ablaze was unplaced in his last flat run in the Stayers Cup at Rosehill but Maher said the lightly raced jumper schooled well over hurdles with raceday jockey Shane Jackson aboard at Traralgon on July 14.
"Ablaze is ticking over well going toward the Grand National Hurdle and Steeplechase," he said. "The main danger for us is Patrick Payne's Tallyho Twinkletoe. He's a very good jumper but I'm confident Ablaze will run very well in both races."
The newly redeveloped $5.8 million Matilda Room at the Warrnambool racecourse will be a game-changer for functions and race days, according to Federal Wannon MP Dan Tehan.
Mr Tehan was impressed when he visited the facility last Friday.
"It's a magnificent complex - absolutely outstanding," he said. "For racegoers, the Matilda Room now offers state of the art facilities. It would have to be the best for a country race club in Victoria. I'm confident going forward the local community will use the facility for many, many functions and events. I'm sure the balcony area out the front of the Matilda Room will bring a lot of joy for people watching races or those who are there for functions once the coronavirus pandemic is behind us."
Warrnambool Racing Club was given a $1.25 million grant by the Federal Government for the project.
Mr Tehan took time to congratulate Racing Victoria on continuing to race during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Racing Victoria has done an outstanding job in tough times," he said. "The racing industry has been on the front foot with their safety protocols relating to the virus and they should be congratulated for its endeavours."
Stewards have outed two promising Warrnambool apprentice jockeys on careless riding charges. Melissa Julius was the first to feel the stewards wrath at Warrnambool last Thursday. Julius was suspended for eight meetings after her ride on Marvellous May. Her suspension started at midnight on July 24 and ends midnight on August 1. Stewards took into account her guilty plea and good record. Fellow local apprentice jockey Laura Lafferty was outed on a careless riding charge for nine meetings following her ride on Simkin at Echuca. Lafferty's suspension begins at midnight August 1 and expires midnight August 10. The stewards deemed the interference in the low range and took into account her good riding record and her guilty plea.
As a result of the restrictions currently in place in Victoria, the Great Southern Sale will now form part of the Inglis Digital August (Early) Online Sale, which will be held over five days from August 7 to 12. This move follows the success of the most recent Inglis Digital July (Early) Online Sale, which grossed in excess of $5.8m. That sale featured a section for Melbourne Gold Yearlings which posted some impressive results, including a sale-topping price of $120,000, an ever-increasing 71 per cent clearance rate and gross in excess of $2.6 million.
More than 110 soon to be yearlings will form part of the Great Southern Sale section of the Inglis Digital August (Early) Online Sale and will be offered in original catalogue order. Supplementary entries for the Great Southern section of the sale will be taken up until July 29.
The Great Southern Sale has produced a number of highlight results in recent years, boasting graduates such as G1 Lightning Stakes winner Gytrash, G1 Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut and G1 Schweppes Oaks winner Sopressa. The sale will feature offspring of star stallions such as Exceed and Excel, Dundeel, More than Ready, Smart Missile, So You Think, Toronado, Written Tycoon and first crop stallions including Almanzor, Highland Reel, Impending, Merchant Navy, Russian Revolution, Tosen Stardom and Thronum amongst others. This sale traditionally provides great pinhook opportunities for buyers, an example being the sale-topper from the recent Scone Yearling Sale, a Toronado x Settecento colt who was purchased by Jazcom Thoroughbreds for $10,000 at the 2019 Great Southern Sale, before being sold for a record $180,000 to Hawkes Racing.