SUNDAY: July 14, 2019: BELATED efforts by Jason Collett and Rachel King today failed to steal a Hawkesbury riding premiership from under Tommy Berry’s nose.
Berry did not ride at the final meeting of the season, but had just enough in reserve to land the title.
His 13 winners for the season proved to be sufficient, with Collett and King each riding a winner on the seven-race program to tie for second on 12.
The pair’s victories were popular with punters. Collett scored on $1.90 favorite Castel Sant’angelo for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott in the Beards Of Hope Maiden Plate (1800m), whilst King won on another favorite, Song And A Prayer ($3.50) for John Thompson, in the Robert Oatley Benchmark 64 Handicap (1500m).
Father and son Peter and Paul Snowden, great supporters of Hawkesbury racing, claimed the trainers’ premiership with 12 wins, one ahead of Godolphin’s James Cummings.
Team Snowden’s Switching To Win ($10) finished second to Castel Sant’angelo in today’s Maiden Plate.
Robbie Dolan also was an absentee from the season closer, but won the apprentices’ premiership with five wins from Mikayla Weir (three wins).
. John Higgins became the 28th Hawkesbury trainer to be successful this season when Our Celtic Star ($11) squeezed home in the Richmond Club Provincial & Country Maiden Plate (1300m).
It had taken the rising six-year-old 32 starts to break through, and his trainer was a relieved man afterwards.
“I didn’t think he would ever win a race, but he’s done it,” Higgins said.
“He’s a bit clever in the head; too clever.”
Higgins has only three horses in work, and removed blinkers from Our Celtic Star’s gear and substituted winkers.
The gelding had a stewards’ warning placed on him at his previous start when slow to begin before finishing a close second to another Hawkesbury runner, Ethne Potowski’s Happy Hustler, in a 1300m Maiden at Kembla Grange on June 1.
Higgins’ decision to book Newcastle apprentice Louise Day proved vital, as her 3kg claim lessened Our Celtic Star’s weight to 56kg; 0.5kg less than the runner-up Uprise.
In a tense finish, Our Celtic Star just edged out Brad Widdup’s two-year-old Uprise ($2.35) after Day had secured an inside run after straightening.
As it turned out, Higgins may have got his season breakthrough anyway, but in the stewards’ room, had Our Celtic Star been beaten.
Stewards reported Our Celtic Star from the 100m to the winning post was bumped twice by Uprise when taken in by the runner-up, which progressively shifted in whilst being ridden along.
Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Mike Van Gestel made it a double for the locals when Charlie Chap ($4.20) made it two wins from as many starts this campaign, in the Easy Lane Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m).
As he did when successful first-up on his home track on July 4 in a similar race with 2kg less, jockey Blake Spriggs rode him quietly and hugged the rail.
This time, Spriggs had to go around one horse in the straight and Charlie Chap burst through to defeat Moralist ($18) and Dynamic Bid ($10).
Ironically, Charlie Chap was an emergency for both races, but gained starts and didn’t let the opportunities slip by.
Having successfully returned from a tie back operation to remedy a breathing problem, Charlie Chap is relishing being kept to shorter races.
Higgins and Van Gestel’s victories lifted to 161 the number of winners prepared so far this season by Hawkesbury trainers.