Return of twilight meeting popular
The busy holiday racing period got off to an early start for Matamata participants with a hugely successful return to the popular pre-christmas twilight race meeting on their home course and continued with impressive returns right through the festive season.
After putting forward a case for the revival of the twilight meeting concept that had proven so popular for a number of years, the Matamata Racing Club finally got the green light from racing authorities and the outcome was hugely pleasing for all concerned.
An eight-race programme beginning in mid-afternoon had additional spice with a guaranteed $500,000 Pick6 jackpot that grew to just a few thousand dollars short of $800,000 and the weather played its part to provide a near perfect racing surface and attract a 2000-plus crowd of pre-christmas racegoers.
The locals won five races and three legs of Pick6, with a succession of favourites spreading the $790,000 jackpot pool between the equivalent of 89 winning units at a dividend of $8,913.50, providing a Christmas windfall for many.
Graham Richardson’s run of early summer form continued when he saddled up the first three placegetters in the second race on the programme, the Elders Livestock 1200.
Combined with other placings on the day, he claimed the trainers’ points prize and a ham provided by our friendly neighbourhood butcher Wayne Dickinson.
The win by Bellacat, having just her second start for owners Bill and Mimi Lloyd, provided a milestone 500th win for her trainer, whose career had begun as junior partner of Mike Moroney. The run of early summer form by the Richardson stable continued when the big money was up at the Auckland Racing Club’s Christmas-new Year meeting, with victory in the very first race of the three-day meeting, another on the second day and then a bumper return on New Year’s Day. Hopes had been high that the form lines of the two rising staying stars in the team, Green Supreme and Single Minded, would hold true – and so it proved.
Green Supreme, the horse that returned from Hong Kong last year after a major form slump, put up a superb performance to win the keenly contested Dunstan Feeds Championship Final with another dominant performance. Single Minded backed his trainer’s judgment in opting for the City Of Auckland Cup ahead of the Dunstan Final with an equally impressive victory in the Group Two feature and for good measure his under-rated stablemate Top Spot took third place. It’s now possible that the Richardson stable will have as many as four runners in the Wellington Cup at Trentham later this month, with Don Domingo – scratched from the City of Auckland Cup due to unsuitable track conditions – likely to join the three Ellerslie runners. Graeme also got a share of another New Year’s Day feature, the Gr. 2 Rich Hill Mile, with Villifye finishing third and hardy campaigner Sircross fifth.
Fellow Matamata trainers Jason Bridgman and the Mike Moroney-andrew Clarken partnership also got their share of the spoils available on the first day of 2012. Jason produced the quinella for the Gr. 3 Eclipse Stakes, Warhorse proving too professional for the still learning Irish Rebel. Matamata two year olds completely dominated this race, with the John Sargent-trained pair Magic Shaft and Marechal the next to finish and Danica Guy’s Saatchi in fifth place.
Chicharita led home a Matamata quinella when she downed the Glenn Oldtrained Our Famous Eve in the Gr. 2 Royal Stakes. Chicharita had looked the part when winning at Ellerslie in mid-december and made the step up to elite company with a solid win. Chicharita was ridden in her win by Chad Ormsby, a talented jockey whose career has been compromised by weight issues. Later the same week it was announced by Ballymore Stables that Chad, the partner of Mike Moroney’s daughter Aliesha Moroney, will take over on August 1 from Andrew Clarken as Mike’s Matamata-based training partner.
Impressive: Another big win for Graham Richardson as Single Minded and Craig Grylls claim the $100,000 City Of Auckland Cup at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.