MONDAY: September 3, 2018: IT was a day of “firsts” for Hawkesbury trainer Peter Green and his apprentice Simone Vella at Taree today.
The pair combined to land the Fillies and Mares Maiden Handicap (1250m) with well-named former Victorian mare The Wild Wild West ($9.50), each clinching their maiden victory at the track.
Despite being forced to race wide from an awkward draw, The Wild Wild West sustained a determined burst in the centre of the track to overhaul Taree local Natural Image ($4.40) to also post her initial victory at her 15th start.
Former harness racing devotee Green won his fifth race as a thoroughbred trainer, whilst former approved jockey Vella claimed her third success since joining the professional riding ranks last year.
Green, an experienced horseman who took out a standardbred trainer-driver’s licence as a 16-year-old and had success in New South Wales and New Zealand before later working as a harness racing steward in NSW and West Australia, won his first thoroughbred race last November with Prime Justice at the annual Bong Bong picnic meeting.
He subsequently won professional races with Respun at Bathurst in January and Kembla Grange in February and Quite Unexpected at Hawkesbury in March.
Vella, after seven wins on the picnic circuit, won the Carinda Cup (1400m) in July last year at only her third professional ride.
She also scored on Northern River at Goulburn in March for trainer Graham Payne.
A five-year-old daughter of 2010 Group 1 VRC Newmarket Handicap winner Wanted and the Gone West mare West Of Katrina, The Wild Wild West initially fetched $65,000 as a yearling at the 2015 Adelaide Magic Millions sale.
She was placed on three occasions in country Victoria and was sold after finishing sixth in a Geelong Maiden Plate (1135m) last December.
“My brother Clinton bought her through an online auction,” Green said late this afternoon on his way home.
“She didn’t cost a lot of money, and it was great to get that win from her today.
“The Wild Wild West got stirred up at her first run for me at Wyong recently (seventh to Tikkitala in an 1100m Maiden on August 26), and Simone (Vella) said she had run her race before the start.”
Green wisely put ear muffs on the mare today to help settle her before they were removed prior to the start being effected – and it worked.
“She was dropping back from a stronger provincial Maiden to a country Maiden, and I felt she would run well,” he said.
“But I was concerned about her wide barrier.”
As it turned out, he need not have worried. The first three horses across the line began from three of the four outside barriers in the 13-horse field.
The $11,200 first prize more than recouped The Wild Wild West’s purchase price, and her performance to overcome a wide run suggests at least another victory is in store.
Green, who has 10 horses in work at Hawkesbury and also has a couple of “babies” he purchased a few months ago at the Scone yearling sale, was also thrilled to see his apprentice get back into the winning list.
“Simone deserved that win,” he said. “She joined our stable a couple of months ago and is a very hard worker.
“She has played an important part in this mare’s success.
“The Wild Wild West was a bit hot-headed and Simone rides her in all her work. The mare was a lot more settled today when she paraded.
“Simone also rides work for Brad Widdup at Hawkesbury and hopefully today’s win will get her more opportunities in races.”