TUESDAY: February 28, 2023: TERRY Croft has been training for nearly four decades and achieved a first with a two-track double yesterday.
The popular Hawkesbury trainer was equally popular with punters too as both his winners were odds-on favorites.
I’m A Shaker ($1.35) scored at Port Macquarie in the Maiden Plate (1500m), and Island Legend ($1.40) did the same at Orange in a 1290m Maiden Plate.
Croft doesn’t prepare a big team at Hawkesbury, and was understandably pleased to get such a good result for the first time in his career.
“It was just the way the races fell in place, and there was no problem splitting them up,” he said this morning.
Croft’s double lifted his number of winners to five so far this season as he readies promising three-year-old Kandos Cosmos for his return to racing at Royal Randwick on Saturday in the Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m).
In fact I’m A Shaker, a Kobayashi three-year-old, races in the Kandos Cosmos colours for owner Mal Russell.
Croft opted for Port Macquarie – where he also started the unplaced Straya Pride in another race – and that was no surprise considering his outstanding strike rate at the track.
I’m A Shaker was his 15th runner at Port, and his eighth winner there.
I’m A Shaker was just nabbed in a similar race at Port Macquarie on February 5, and Croft put winkers on the gelding for yesterday’s assignment.
“I felt he floated the other day when he hit the front, and Mikayla Weir, who rode him then, thought the same and suggested winkers,” Croft explained.
“I’m sure they helped him concentrate better yesterday.”
Aaron Bullock followed a five-winner haul at Tamworth the previous day by giving I’m A Shaker the run of the race, and he quickly put paid to them in the straight.
The gelding had two and a half lengths to spare at the end from $51 roughie Fine Example and Lady Townson ($4.60).
Croft is considering giving I’m A Shaker a few weeks’ break before aiming him at Grafton’s July carnival.
He would dearly love to win the Grafton Guineas (1600m) for three-year-olds; which he nearly captured with Vite Loni (Tim Clark), who went under by a half-length to Royal Scribe nine years ago.
Sadly, Vite Loni went amiss when favorite in the 2016 Forbes Cup (1600m) and had to be put down.
Island Legend, a Capitalist four-year-old, was having only his fourth start for Croft and came off the back of solid provincial form.
But this victory wasn’t as easy as Croft’s earlier winner at Port.
Winona Costin had ridden Island Legend at his previous six starts, and had to work on the gelding from an awkward draw to get him across to race outside fellow Hawkesbury representative, $61 outsider Legris.
Island Legend took over in the straight and gained a break, then gamely held out roughies Suomenlinna ($26) and Fashionista ($101).
“He had been racing well at the provincials, and the Orange race was a good opportunity to give him a bit of confidence by breaking through,” Croft said.
“We’ll look for another race for him in the country in the coming weeks.”
. Croft’s double boosted Hawkesbury winners for February to 19, and 123 for not quite the first seven months of the season.