SUNDAY: June 9, 2019: IT’S been a breakout year for Philippe and Tara Vigouroux – and it got better on their home track at Hawkesbury today.
The husband and wife training duo landed the Jazcom Thoroughbreds Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m) with $26 chance Azcannyaz, part-owned by Hawkesbury Race Club chairman Ken Quigley.
The six-year-old’s victory capped an excellent weekend for the pair, who also scored with Stars Galawe on the ACTON synthetic track at Canberra last Friday.
The Canberra and Hawkesbury wins boosted their season’s tally to 13 – and there’s nothing unlucky about that!
In this current season – which ends on July 31 – the couple has already equalled the total number of winners they had prepared in the previous three seasons.
Philippe Vigouroux singled out a couple of factors for such an excellent season, especially regarding today’s winner Azcannyaz.
“The PolyTrack (opened 12 months ago) has changed things around with training at Hawkesbury,” he said.
“It’s a great asset.
“This horse was a bit unsound last preparation and we spelled him, but he has come back good.
“I also have to thank Bruce Johnson for use of the water walker at North Richmond.”
Team Vigouroux provided a perfect example of such a terrific season by getting both Azcannyaz and Stars Galawe ready to win first-up without trials.
Stars Galawe hadn’t raced since finishing fourth in a 1000m Maiden at Adaminaby on November 24 last year and her breakthrough success (racing in blinkers) in the 1080m Maiden Handicap at Canberra certainly wasn’t out of turn.
It came at her 27th start after 10 minor placings.
With apprentice Courtney Gravener aboard, the five-year-old Salade mare started at $3.10 and beat Silent Halo ($15) and Manila Thriller ($8).
Team Vigouroux nearly landed a Canberra double as We Could Be Heroes ($3.30), also resuming, was narrowly beaten in the Class 1 Handicap (1080m).
Azcannyaz, a six-year-old by Canny Lad, also has been a prolific placegetter like his stablemate Stars Galawe.
He has been placed on no less than 18 occasions from 40 starts, but this was his fourth victory.
Having his first start since finishing sixth at Orange on November 9 last year in a Benchmark 66 Handicap (1300m), he sustained a determined burst down the outside in the straight to catch $2.15 favorite Lagarde in the last few strides in the Benchmark 64.
In the process, Azcannyaz robbed Lagarde’s trainer Brad Widdup of a home track double.
Hawkesbury’s leading trainer won the opening event, the PolyTrack Metro & Provincial Maiden Handicap (1300m,) with two-year-old Delago Deluxe filly Parlour ($3.80), well ridden by his brother-in-law Christian Reith.
It was his 37th winner for the season – and a special one at that, being his first for the Kelly family, of Newhaven Park fame.
Widdup also accepted with Parlour against her own age in the Blacktown Workers 2YO Maiden Plate over the same distance.
“I spoke with Charles Kelly about running her against older horses as I thought that race suited better because the two-year-old event had a big field,” Widdup said.
“It’s a privilege to be given horses to train for the Kelly family.
“This filly is only the second I have started for them. Another filly Birdy (by Dawn Approach) was turned out after she made her debut at Warwick Farm in March.
“Parlour is a tough filly. You wouldn’t think she had had a run when she came home; I haven’t got to the bottom of her.”
Widdup also was delighted with the performance of Kembla Grange debut winner Switched, who made her city debut at Royal Randwick yesterday and finished a game second to Catwalk in the 2YO Handicap (1000m).
“She had a hard run and battled right to the post,” he said. “The race was set up for something to come from behind and Switched was caught only in the closing stages.”