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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


TUESDAY: January 9, 2024: THE new year brought a change of racing fortune – and nearly a first ever TAB double to savour - for Hawkesbury trainer Jason Clisby at Orange today.

And whilst he clinched a season breakthrough with Sarastrina ($5.50) in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1610m), the day would have been so much bigger had stablemate Bondadosa (a $71 to $21 firmer) also won the following event, the Class 2 Handicap (1410m), instead of finishing second.

Sarastrina, the first horse Clisby bred from his mare Zaveena, with whom he won five races, gamely won a two-horse battle in the straight with Weave The Web ($6.50) after the mare’s rider Grant Buckley made a sweeping run from last before the turn.

The four-year-old daughter of Denman, who was her trainer’s previous winner when she landed a 140m Maiden Handicap at Mudgee in April last year at only her second start, was having her third start this preparation.

Clisby had hopes of getting the then three-year-old filly to the Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm last year, but it didn’t work out.

“She is only small like her mother, and just wasn’t ready to keep going for the Oaks,” he said today.

“It was great to see her win another race.”

Clisby has retired Zaveena from breeding after she slipped to Star Turn, and then foaled a colt (now a weanling) by Casino Prince.

“I won’t breed from her again,” Clisby said. “The Casino Prince colt isn’t big either, but hopefully he will be okay.”

Bondadosa was ridden by inexperienced 4kg claiming apprentice Courtney Ferris (who was having only her ninth ride) in the Class 2 Handicap, restricted to junior jockeys being a heat of the Rising Star series.

“That’s the way it goes,” Clisby said. “You can’t expect 4kg claimers to have the strength of senior jockeys.”

Clisby has only three horses in work – the other being lightly-raced four-year-old Big Shooter, who hasn’t started since October – and has sold his roofing business.

“I need a break, and am planning to take 12 months off around May or June and travel around Australia,” he said.

“By the time I take off Big Shooter most likely will have finished his next campaign.”

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