Handy horse posts win on sodden track for Autridge
STEPHEN Autridge has made sure but steady steps since returning to his old home town at the start of last season and passed a small but significant milestone when he saddled up Whitby to win at Tauranga last Saturday.
On a day spoilt by heavy rain and a track downgrade that resulted in no less than 23 late scratchings, Whitby ploughed through the sodden ground to post his trainer’s tenth win for the season.
‘‘Given the weather we had to deal with it wasn’t pretty but a win’s a win,’’ commented Autridge afterwards. ‘‘He’d never struck conditions like that so we went into it only hoping he’d cope.
‘‘He’s a handy horse who has been going honest races since he won his maiden back in December so I reckon he deserved it.’’
After training nine winners last season in his first season from the new 30-horse barn built on the course by the Matamata Racing Club, Autridge set himself a target of 15 winners for the current term.
That’s a far cry from the heady days of sharing premiership successes with his former training partner Graeme Rogerson through the first decade of this century but Autridge is satisfied that right now he’s in a good space.
‘‘I love it being back home,’’ said the former successful jockey whose father Bob is still training winners as Matamata’s longest serving licenceholder. ‘‘I’ve beaten last year’s tally and I figure I’m going pretty good to reach my target of 15 wins.
‘‘I reckon I’ve got the best spot to be training from around here, just a short walk to the training tracks, good landlords who look after things pretty well and a handy team around me.
‘‘There aren’t any stars – none that I know about yet anyway – but I’m happy that my best horses at the moment are what you call very promising.’’
Autridge’s 30-strong team is an even mix of active racehorses and others going through their early education, along with several being prepared for future racing in Australia and Asia.
‘‘I always have at least a couple of those horses for clients who want to trade. I guess I’m no different from anyone else in that respect; it’s one way of making a dollar for yourself and your clients.’’
The name of Tauranga winner Whitby is an easy clue to his ownership, being one of two winners on the programme owned under the Whitby Bloodstock banner by Sydney-sider Max Whitby. The other weekend winner in the emerald green Whitby colours was the Graeme and Debbie Rogerson-trained Scarlett Lady, which put up an equally impressive performance to score a second win on end.
The pair’s other common link is that they are both by Savabeel, one of those rare horses good enough to win the W S Cox Plate as a three-year-old. The son of champion stallion Zabeel was raced by Graeme Rogerson and Max Whitby, both of whom have retained an association by breeding mares to Savabeel since his retirement to Waikato Stud.
Whitby and Scarlett Lady are just two of a string of recent winners by the young stallion, that list including the Waikato Stud-owned filly Do Ra Mi who recently won the $500,000 Kewney Stakes in Melbourne, Canberra Guineas winner Kudakulari and Savabill, the winner of the Waikato Stud Slipper on Matamata Breeders’ Stakes day last month.
‘‘I’ve known Max since my days with Rogie and I’ve also got a yearling by Pins that he bought at the Karaka sales,’’ said Stephen Autridge. ‘‘It’s good to have the support of people like him.’’
As well as the now proven wet track galloper Whitby, Autridge-trained horses to look out for in the weeks ahead include the Cambridge Stud-bred Abagale, a placegetter at the South Waikato meeting at Matamata two weeks ago and another co-owned by Sir Patrick and Lady Justine Hogan, Recording.
He is a son of the former high class Stephen Autridge-trained filly Singalong and although he has yet to match his mother’s ability, hopes are held that it’s only a matter of time before he hits his straps. ‘‘He’s had a few chances but so far hasn’t come up with the goods,’’ said his trainer.
‘‘I’m still confident that once he cracks it he’ll be right.’’
Other stable members that Autridge predicts a bright future for are Pinot Express, Abbey Tralae and Colheita.
‘‘Pinot Express and Abbey Tralae are always thereabouts and I liked the way Colheita shaped up for fourth in her first start last week.
‘‘There are others I haven’t named so I hope their owners aren’t offended when they read this but all in all things are shaping up all right around here.’’
Peter Brosnan and a bunch of family partners got a quick return on their investment when Skidby won at Pukekohe last week in his first start from new quarters.
Brosnan trains Skidby for a partnership comprising himself and his partner Jess Grayson, his mother Marj, sister Sue and her husband Kevin Clothier.
With winter approaching it’s dollars to doughnuts that Brosnan will be able to find some suitable targets for Skidby, who is already the winner of three races over hurdles.
WINNING PARTNERSHIP: Stephen Autridge with Whitby.