Local trainers took out the two feature events on an action packed day of racing at the Sapphire Coast Turf Club on Sunday with the ageless Gelderbelle defying all challenges in the All New D-Max Isuzu Ute Cup and Knocka Norris notching up a similarly stirring victory in the Eden Fishermen’s Club Eden Cup.
An emotional Benny Wynen, the Wolumla-based owner-trainer of Gelderbelle, just kept repeating “That’s unreal, she’s just unreal that horse,” after her thrilling victory. “To do that on such a light preparation and from the outside barrier was just incredible.”
Gelderbelle was speared straight to the front by her 3kg claiming regular rider, apprentice rider Tash Burleigh, and fought off challenges all the way down the straight.
Dropping back in distance from the 1425 metres of her last start failure at Moruya to the 1200 metres of the Benchmark 55 Handicap and coming off a 30 day break, Wynen said she had been given only one serious track gallop before the race.
But the now nine-year-old obviously thrives on the light preparation and has struck a purple patch of form with two wins, two seconds and a third from her last six starts.
Overall she has won 12 races, including eight at her home track, with 24 placings from her 92 starts.
There was no doubting the decision this time for Knocka Norris ($9) who showed that his win by default at Moruya was no fluke when he stepped up in grade for a dominant win in the Eden Fishermen’s Recreation Club “Maggie Brown” Eden Cup, a Benchmark 50 handicap over 1400 metres.
Not too many horses are able to progress from their maiden win to victory in a higher grade at their next start, but Knocka Norris, trained by Grant Bobbin in Tarraganda, did it in style, working hard to get to the lead and then holding off a wall of horses over the last 100 metres, to score by long neck from Setta Rocks ($13) with a short head to another local galloper Looksgoodinblack ($7.50) third, trained by Chris and Michelle Strickland.
Bega Cup winning trainer Steve Stephens of Moruya looked to have unearthed another stayer of promise when his maiden galloper Olympian ($26) set a new class record in winning the Rankin Builders Class 1 and Maiden Plate over 1600 metres.
Having only his fourth start for Stephens, Olympian ($26) – the omen tip of the year – unleashed a powerful burst from midfield to dash clear over the last 200 metres for a three lengths victory.
The favourite Mycuprunnethover ($3.60) from the Matthew Dale stable was second with a half length to Jayko ($6.50) third.
Stephens said the five-year-old gelding was formerly trained by Clarrie Connors in Sydney and on his old form was no good until he got up in distance to 1600 metres or further.
Purchased by his son Matthew at the Inglis Sydney sales, he was given more than a year off the scene to recover from “some slight problems” before beginning his current campaign in June.
Olympian took more than a second off the class record on a dead track running the metric mile in 1 min.38.35 sec.
Other highlights of the day included a win on his first visit to the Sapphire Coast track by former Reserve Bank governor Bernie Fraser, who took up training as a hobby when he retired to Queanbeyan several years ago.
His aptly named Cutiepie Magpie ($19) swooped late to swamp the field in the Seahorse Inn, Boydtown, Benchmark Handicap 900 metres, scoring by a neck from Bengello ($10) with a short head to Ninja ($10) third.
Fraser said he had been put off by the drive down Brown Mountain in a horse float in the past but would certainly be back.
Moruya jockey Neil Perryman celebrated his birthday with a win on Cognac Prince in the Mitre 10 Maiden Plate of 1400 metres.
Cognac Prince ($5) sat second to the home turn where he came with a strong run down the middle of the track to score by three-and-three-quarter lengths from Sammy Safecracker ($10) with a neck to Too Sassy ($9) third
Moruya trainer Luke Pepper said he would now be turned out for a spell and come back a much better horse.
Bad Kitty made it three in a row for Moruya trainer John Marzol in the Eden Chamber of Commerce/Wilton Logging Benchmark 66 Handicap over 1000 metres.
After winning at Moruya and Cowra at her last two starts Bad Kitty ($4.80) slogged it out gamely all the way down the straight to hold off Outside ($5) by a nose with a long head to Freetoair ($4.80) third.
In the first race of the day, leading Canberra trainer Matthew Dale produced a first start winner in Maylani to take out the Georgie’s Fine Jewellery Maiden Plate over 900 metres.
Maylani backed into odds-on at $1.75 raced greenly and veered out sharply to finish wide out on the track but still had a length-and-a-quarter to spare on the line from Quarter Hennessy ($6) with a short neck to King Ricardo ($6) third.
The next Sapphire Coast Turf Club race meeting will be on Saturday, September 29.