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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SATURDAY: February 3, 2024: FRESH is best!

At least that’s what Hawkesbury trainer Terry Croft considers is the best policy for his first-up winner Starros at Bathurst yesterday.

Having his first start since October, Starros ($6) turned in an excellent performance to land the Class 1 Handicap (1100m).

The widest runner in the straight, the Star Witness four-year-old sustained a strong burst to grab Young Rebel ($5) in the shadows of the post with only a length separating the first five placegetters.

“Starros had only two previous preparations, and the jockeys who rode him last time kept saying he needed further than the sprint trips,” Croft said today.

“I tried him at 1600m at Kembla Grange at his last start, but he couldn’t run it.”

Croft was keen on the gelding’s chances on resumption, even though he didn’t trial him in preparation for his return.

“He had a jumpout, but I’ve kept him fresh by swimming him and taking him to the track only a couple of times a week,” he said.

“That’s the secret to him for sure.”

Croft secured the son of Star Witness for $7000 at the 2021 Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association sale held at Inglis’ Riverside complex in Sydney (coincidentally runner-up Young Rebel fetched $65,000 at the same sale), and he has now earned just over $61,000, including a BOBS bonus.

“I didn’t go to the sale intending to buy Starros, but liked him when he came into the ring,” he said.

“Nobody seemed to want him and after someone bid $6500, I went to $7000 and got him.

“Starros’ dam (Corrosion) is an unraced Lonhro mare, and he is closely related to former Godolphin sprinters Viridine (nine wins between 1000m-1200m) and Osborne Bulls (also nine wins predominantly around 1200m-1300m, though he did win over 1400m at Rosehill Gardens).

“I feel Starros will run 1300m, but doubt any further.”

The gelding is a “family horse”, being raced by Croft’s wife Roslyn and son Shane, who was with his father at the sale.

Croft won’t mind putting yesterday’s winning rider Clayton Gallagher on any of his horses again anytime soon.

The Dubbo-based jockey, who currently sits fifth in the State premiership with 63 wins, has had only four rides for him – for two wins and two placings.

He won the Forbes Cup last August on Just A Brother and ran third on the same horse in the Wellington Cup five months earlier, and also ran third on Gallic Fox at Bathurst 12 months ago.

. Whilst Starros cut it rather fine, Luai didn’t give fellow Hawkesbury trainer Claire Lever a moment’s concern in the Maiden Plate (1400m).

Having only his sixth start, the Epaulette four-year-old jumped a $1.55 hotpot, and bolted home by four lengths under Grant Buckley from Val D’Isere ($4.60) and Lohnanova ($7).

Luai had finished fourth at both previous starts in provincial company and relished dropping back to country class, providing Lever with her fifth winner of the season.

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