A HORSE bred, trained and owned in Echuca-Moama flew the local flag to win the $20,000 bet365 BM64 Handicap at Echuca racecourse on Saturday.
Definia ran a textbook race from go to whoa with apprentice Lewis German getting the ride so his 2kg claim could get the top weight down to 60kg for the 1200m dash.
Trained by Gwenda and Mick Johnstone the seven-year-old gelding, which is owned by half of the twin towns according to the course caller, with six career win from 32 starts, lifted its earnings to $119,355.
Starting at 6/1 Definia paid $6.80 on SuperTAB but according to Mick Johnstone “it’s a nerve wracking way to back a winner”.
He was behind just before the post, and behind just past the post, but put his head down at exactly the right moment to be a nose in front on the line,” Johnstone laughed.
It was a day of close calls for the stable, in the opening race on the card, the $23,000 Echuca CIH Maiden Plate over 1200m, their first start mare Catch A Hero finished in a dead heat for third with Exceder.
“Definia carried the weight well and after a good jump the youngster on his back pulled up just behind the pacemaker,” Johnstone said.
“We thought he had a good shot, he was down in class but up in weight, so the apprentice claim certainly helped,” he said. “This was Lewis’ second ride on him and he did a great job keeping him on the speed because Definia doesn’t overly like firm tracks and can’t afford to get too far back.
“That happened last start but today, the race was as good as you can get.”
Johnstone said Definia can be a tricky ride because when he gets in the straight you can never be sure which way he is going to go.
He said the horse tends to make up its mind when it reaches the straight.
On Saturday he did shift as the field straightened but German kept him going forward after Hot Seat, the horse that had led from the jump.
“Lewis is a good left hand whip rider and he kept Definia going straight while they caught up with Hot Seat,” he added.
“That was a good job and he got there just in time.”
Definia is out of Echuca Beauty, which has been a successful broodmare for the Johnstone stable.
Johnstone said all but one of her six foals had been winners.
“We will probably move him up in class to a BM72 at Benalla on September 28 and then see where he goes from there,” Johnstone said
Whittlesea trainer Peter Morgan and jockey Linda Meech combined to win the first race of the day (the $23,000 Echuca CIH Maiden Plate) with All A Spritz and then finished the day on a high winning the last race (the $20,000 Independent Cranes Handicap over 1400m) with My Mother Says.
Maldon trainers Brian and Ashley McKnight also landed a double with Lone Soldiers in the $23,000 Two Tarts Maiden Plate and then Yarrayne Lass in the $20,000 Murphy’s Turf & Landscaping Handicap.
The next Echuca races will be on Monday October 15.