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LATHAM GETS TOP MARKS FOR REIBY'S REGENT RIDE

THURSDAY: May 14, 2020: CO-trainer Jason Attard paid jockey Keagan Latham a fitting tribute after a dashing Wyong ride today to bolt home on Reiby’s Regent.

“Keagan is a great asset to our team, and a good friend as well,” Attard said on his way home, greatly relieved that Reiby’s Regent ($4 favorite) had returned to the winning list in style in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1350m).

Overcoming his outside barrier in the field of 11, the four-year-old took the lead on settling down, was never threatened and cruised home three lengths ahead of Salsa Man ($7) to post his second win – and first since breaking through at the same track in April last year – at his 14th start.

“It wasn’t our plan to lead, but Keagan used his initiative and it won the race for us,” Attard said.

“He said afterwards that he had hoped to get in one out and one back, but Reiby’s Regent would not have settled as there was no early pace.

“He wisely chose to go to the front, and never moved a muscle thereafter.

“I’m pleased for the horse to see him get back into the winning list, and relieved that he not only won but did it so impressively.”

Attard’s only regret was that Latham is unable to ride Reiby’s Regent if he goes to the city for a forthcoming assignment because of the zone restrictions which have arisen from the COVID-19 crisis.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to keep Keagan on the horse in town,” he said. “He is a very underrated rider and hopefully the restrictions will soon ease.”

Attard, who celebrated a birthday on May 6, and his wife and training partner Lucy Keegan-Attard have long held a high opinion of Reiby’s Regent.

He ran in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) last year not long after his Wyong Maiden victory, and earlier this year the couple started him in the Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) – won by subsequent Newcastle Newmarket winner Special Reward - at Royal Randwick.

“We’ve always felt Reiby’s Regent had the ability to measure up to black type company, but he wasn’t ready at the time,” Attard said.

“He will be next season. Things just haven’t gone right for him; he has had either bad draws or bad luck.”

There was extra satisfaction for Attard as Reiby’s Regent (by Uncle Mo) is the first foal of the Commands mare Reiby Regina, who was the first horse he broke in and then provided him with his first city winner at Canterbury in December, 2012 after training for about a year.

The Attards took out their dual licence at the beginning of the season and, whilst success didn’t arrive until early December, winners have since come steadily and today’s result was the couple’s seventh.

“We moved to our own farm last year, and it took a while for both ourselves and the horses to get used to the new environment,” Attard said.

“We’re really happy with how the team is going now. There’s much to look forward to.”

. Hawkesbury cleaned up in the last two races at Wyong as fellow trainer Mitch Newman also continued his successful season when Diva Bella ($5) was another easy winner, in the Class 1 Handicap (1200m).

Newman notched his eighth success as Diva Bella also continued her improvement, making it back to back wins after breaking through at Gosford on Anzac Day.

Apprentice Cejay Graham partnered the Reward For Effort filly at Gosford, and stuck to the inside on her today as she dashed clear in the straight to beat another Hawkesbury representative, Brad Widdup’s recent Goulburn winner Louder ($26).

Newman wasn’t concerned when rain forced a track downgrade to a “Soft 6” after the second race and subsequently to a “Soft 7”, pointing out Diva Bella had some wet track form in her pedigree.