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  • John Curtis


THURSDAY: July 29, 2021: DESIREE Kearney took a punt last year when she bought an unraced two-year-old online through Inglis Digital for a mere $2000.

It was a punt which has well and truly paid off. Having his 10th start at Wyong today, the now rising four-year-old Carlisle Bay broke through in the Maiden Handicap (1600m) after five minor placings.

In the process, he lifted his earnings to nearly $50,000 (including a $5625 BOBS bonus).

The Smart Missile gelding’s initial victory was important for another couple of reasons.

He was the eighth 2020-21 winner for Kearney and her Hawkesbury co-trainer husband Mitch, giving them their most successful season as a training partnership so far.

And he is a real “family horse”.

“Mitch and I race Carlisle Bay with his two brothers, my father and Dad’s best mate John Cotter, so it was a great result all round,” Desiree Kearney explained on her way home from Wyong.

Ridden by apprentice Jean Van Overmeire, Carlisle Bay ($4.40) was always in control and comfortably held out $2.90 favorite Kouklara.

Carlisle Bay was passed in at $60,000 at the 2019 Inglis Classic yearling sale, and had two trainers without racing before entering the Kearney stable.

“I liked his pedigree when I saw him advertised for auction last year,” Mrs Kearney said.

“He was all legs in his Warwick Farm trial in February last year, and even though his photo didn’t show him to be the prettiest horse, I felt he was one who needed time.

“We gave him a good spell, and didn’t start racing him until late last year.

“Sometimes I take a punt buying horses. It doesn’t always pay off, but this time it has.”

Carlisle Bay has an extravagant galloping action, which Kearney says is improving with maturity – and in any case it certainly isn’t impacting his galloping ability.

“He is a kind and sound horse, and there is something about him,” she said.

“Carlisle Bay is absolutely thriving, and we’ll keep him going for now.”

The gelding’s dam, Authorized mare Caribbean Concert won two races, and his granddam Nanny Maroon won 11 races including six in town (all at Rosehill Gardens).

It was another excellent day for Hawkesbury trainers, with Henry Reeves and Brad Widdup also clinching victories.

The Wyong treble came on top of another treble at Cowra on Tuesday (when Team Kearney also won a race along with Matt Vella and Karen Outtrim) and Garry Frazer’s impressive Gosford win with the lightly-raced Tocomah last Sunday.

Reeves landed the 4YO & Up Maiden Handicap (1350m) with Sombre Prize ($7.50), giving jockey Grant Buckley his 100th winner of the season.

Buckley got Sombre Prize, a $7000 buy for Reeves at the 2018 Scone yearling sale, home in the nick of time from $2.80 favorite Mister Ripley, then had to survive a protest lodged by the latter’s rider Ellen Hennessey, alleging interference over the closing stages.

Reeves became the 26th Hawkesbury trainer to win at least one race this season, and notched his first success since Stormy Benz scored at Mudgee in July, 2016.

Widdup, Hawkesbury’s leading trainer, made it 36 wins for the season when Eminencia (apprentice Tom Sherry) also broke through, in the 3YO Maiden Plate (1350m).

The well-bred filly started at $12, and held off the Chris Waller pair, Barrichello ($2.90) and the unlucky $2.60 favorite Cat D’Oro.

Eminencia was having her fifth start, and was Widdup’s first winner for George Altomonte’s Corumbene Stud.

The I Am Invincible filly had been placed twice recently on her home track and sandwiched in between was a Newcastle failure on June 26, when RacingNSW stewards placed a warning on her racing manners after she attempted to buck momentarily in the early stages, and thereafter never travelled.

“That’s a mystery,” Widdup said. “I don’t know what happened that day; she had never done that before.”

Coincidentally, Newcastle-trained Go Gazza also raced below expectations in the same race that day, and was another Wyong winner today.

Eminencia’s dam Emissary won three races, including two in town, and has a real connection to Randwick’s Group 1 staying feature, The Metropolitan.

Her dam Heart Ruler and granddam Born To Be Queen both won the race in 1997 and 1986 respectively.

Hawkesbury’s chances of making it four wins on the day went out the window when Sniper Legend was a late scratching from the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m) when he refused to be loaded.

Trainer Matt Vella, who has worked hard to improve the two-year-old’s barrier manners, was advised that the gelding must barrier trial to stewards’ satisfaction before being allowed to race again.

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