SUNDAY: June 30, 2019: TERRY Croft was back where it all began, at Rosehill Gardens yesterday.
The popular Croft, one of Hawkesbury’s longest serving trainers, won his first metropolitan race in five years when his “bread and butter” horse No Escape scored at the track.
It was his seventh winner for the current season – equalling the same number he prepared last season.
“I started at Rosehill with trainer Bede Horan in 1971,” Croft recalled today.
“It’s always nice to have a horse good enough to go back there and win a race, especially on a Saturday.”
Hawkesbury, though, has never been far from Croft’s heart.
“I’ve been training there since 1986,” he said.
“But I started riding work at Hawkesbury in the 1970s, along with Garry White (fellow Hawkesbury trainer), after kicking off with Bede.”
Croft moved to Queensland and trained at Deagon and Caloundra, and has the distinction of being the first at the latter track to win a race in Brisbane.
Pedro’s Tigress ran fourth at the opening meeting of the Sunshine Coast track in July, 1985 and then win at Doomben at her next start.
Croft, who has 14 horses in work at Hawkesbury, hadn’t won a Sydney race since Catseye Surprise (Mitchell Bell) scored at Canterbury on June 25, 2014.
Coincidentally, it was only a few months earlier the same year that No Escape was purchased privately for a bargain four-figure amount after being passed in at the Inglis Classic yearling sale.
“He’s been a wonderful horse for our stable,” Croft said. “That was his seventh win, and he has run nine placings and earned just over $200,000.
“No Escape was immature as a young horse, and didn’t show a lot.
“We didn’t race him as a two-year-old, and he began his career well into his three-year-old season.”
It’s a safe bet patrons at the Royal Hotel at Richmond shook the rafters when No Escape ($18 to $13), ridden by James Innes Jnr, ran down front-runner Fuel ($10) to land the Benchmark 78 Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill.
The Shellscrape six-year-old is popular at that “watering hole” – and with good reason.
“He is raced by publican Mal Russell and a syndicate which includes a number of regulars at the hotel,” Croft explained.
“We gave him a good each-way chance yesterday after his last start fourth to Quackerjack over 1600m at Randwick three weeks ago.”
Perhaps his owners might not have pulled up all that well after the celebrations, but there was no problem with No Escape.
“He ate up and was very bright this morning,” Croft said.
“I’ll keep him in work for the time being, especially as he likes the rain-affected ground.
“I’m not sure where his next run will be, but I might nominate him for the South Grafton Cup (a $50,000 1600m quality handicap) next Sunday.”
Croft is no stranger to Grafton’s famous July carnival. He won the BIG Maiden (1200m) there in 2013 with Catseye Surprise, and Vite Loni was runner-up the following year in the Guineas (1600m).
. HOOFNOTE: Croft rode as an amateur jockey before embarking on a training career, and competed in the last Corinthian Handicap ever run at Randwick in the 1970s.
The Corinthian was a traditional race for amateur jockeys, and was a feature of the annual Bank Holiday meeting at the track on a Monday in early August.