Gary Harley RNSW


The wonderful racing career of Newcastle’s best sprinter of late, In Her Time, came to an end on Anzac Day when she was narrowly beaten in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Crown at Rosehill.

Typifying the renowned will to win that the now seven-year-old mare has displayed throughout her career, she toughed it out to the line under her 60 kilogram impost to go down by a mere 0.3 of a length. Following the race her connections revealed that In Her Time would be sold at the Inglis Chairman’s sale on May 8.

In Her Time started her career with Newcastle trainer Ben Smith and finished her career with Kris Lees. Both trainers won Group 1’s with the bonnie mare who bowed out after 31 starts, enjoying 9 wins, 9 placings and collecting $3.7 million in prizemoney. She won on debut at Canterbury when a $71 chance in September 2015.

Under Ben Smith, In Her Time won the Group 1 Galaxy at Rosehill in March 2018.

The year before she was most unlucky in the Group 1 Stradbroke when runner up, and again stiff when placed in the Group 1 Tatts Tiara. Subsequent to her transfer to Lees Racing, In Her Time won the Group 1 Lightning at Flemington in February 2019. She was placed in successive years in the Group 1 VRC Classic at Flemington.

The crack sprinter twice won the Newcastle Jockey Club’s Horse Of The Year in 2017-18 and 2018-19. The In Her Time story is another one of those great yarns where a yearling unwanted by buyers turned out to be a superstar.

Potential buyers shunned the filly when she went through the ring at the 2014 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale when she had a $40,000 reserve. Peter Brown, who was involved in breeding the filly, offered her for sale and when she was passed-in he then advertised her for sale on the internet. There was, fortuitously for Brown, little interest in the daughter of Time Thief.

Brown had her broken in and put her away in a Scone paddock for six months. In Her Time was owned by the Denise Cobcroft Breeding Trust of which Brown was a manager, and he decided to buy her for $14,000. Ben Smith was offered the youngster and he found a group to lease her with Brown. The lease expired in the Autumn of 2018 and Brown then owned her outright before selling a half share to Orbis Bloodstock.

In Her Time has been a tremendous ambassador for Newcastle racing and there’s little doubt that she’ll will join some famous counterparts as an inductee in the Newcastle & Hunter Racing Hall Of Fame.

Lees said after In her Times finale that she was the fastest horse he had trained. “In Her Time won a Lightning Handicap at Flemington and I have not trained any other horse that could do that. Very fast – always competitive, a real star on the track,” Lees said.


Popular Irish jockey Louise Day has relocated to Sydney and after a two-week isolation in early May, she can only ride in the Metropolitan Zone. Originally based in the Northern Zone set up by Racing NSW to manage jockey movement through the current pandemic, she is apprenticed to Kris Lees at Broadmeadow. She has been based in Newcastle with the Lees stable since late in the 2016-17 season. She has ridden 125 winners however the northern region, but competition for rides has increased under the new protocols as it was a popular choice with jockeys when the restrictions began on March 27.

Day can no longer claim on country tracks but she maintains a two-kilogram claim at the provincials and three-kilograms in town. “It is increasingly difficult for me to get decent rides in the north and I am still indentured to Kris Lees. Kris doesn’t have an apprentice who can claim in the metropolitan region so when I mentioned the option he said it was a good idea and go for it. It is a big risk because I can now only ride on metropolitan race days given the new COVID-19 rules in place. You need to be seen to be getting rides and it is going to be hard – but I will give it a crack,” the 25-year-old told The Newcastle Herald.

Day said she thoroughly enjoyed her stay in Newcastle but is keen to add to her metropolitan winners tally and give it a go. If it doesn’t work, she will re-assess.


Former Kiwi trainer John Sargent’s affinity with fillies is well known. He has trained the winners of the ATC Australian Oaks, VRC Oaks, Queensland Oaks and New Zealand Oaks.

“Sarge” was hopeful his classy three-year-old Stick ‘Em Up could outstay her rivals in the ATC Oaks on April 11, but she wound up fifth after leading by four lengths mid-race. So, the wily Kiwi went to plan ‘B’ and that involved Newcastle.

Back in 2013 Sargent won a Class 1 at Newcastle Racecourse with Kirramosa and then sent her to Melbourne where she famously won the Group 2 Wakeful and Group 1 Victorian Oaks double. Last year his filly Miss Moana won at Newcastle and two weeks later was beaten a head in the Group 3 South Australian Classic (2500m).

“I believe Stick ‘Em Up can win the Classic race in SA but she needed another run before taking on that task. I have had great success on the big Newcastle track and I am a huge fan of bringing horses there. I saw this 2350 metre Maiden and Class 1 at Newcastle and thought it represented the ideal lead-up to a possible trip south – and under the weight scale she looked a good thing. Stick ‘Em Up won very easily, so Adelaide – here we come,” Sargent said.

He was one of New Zealand’s leading trainers with 140 horses in work but he’s happy to have eased back a touch with 35 in his yard at Randwick.


April through to early May was a busy period for the Newcastle Jockey Club with five race meetings in four weeks. The highlight during this time was in-form jockey Jeff Penza’s performance in saluting on five rides at a meeting for the first time in his career on April 11.

The winners were Criaderas (James Cummings), What A Girl (Chris Waller), San Marco (Peter Ball), Loves To Rock (Anthony Cummings) and Hard Spot (Brett Cavanough).

The popular jockey was badly injured in a horrific fall at Queanbeyan in October 2018. He suffered a broken leg, arm, ribs and elbow and he was out of the saddle for eleven months. “I am just over the moon to ride five winners on one of my favourite tracks. I have ridden four winners and a second but this is my best day to date. I live five minutes from the Hawkesbury track but I cannot ride there while we have the restrictions as I elected to ride In the North Zone.

I love riding on the Newcastle tracks and I have won two Newcastle Premierships. It was frustrating not riding for eleven months but I am back now and the winners are coming” Penza said.

At the end of April Penza had ridden 54 winners since returning to the saddle in September.