Gary Harley – Wrap – 10.02.24

Local trainer Mark Minervini was released from hospital on Saturday morning, in time to see his mare Star Impact win at Newcastle, but he still nearly slept through the race. Star Impact was contesting the Peterson House Midway Benchmark 64 Handicap (1600m) at 3.10pm on Saturday and Minervini was at home watching Sky Racing. He had gone to sleep in the morning and woke up just in time, at 3.00pm. The win was a great tonic for Minervini, who has not been in great health in recent months.

Star Impact has been a bargain buy for a group of Minervini’s owners, most of whom are Novocastrians. The five-year-old mare won her second race at Tuncurry in December 2022 and was put on the market. Minervini paid $11,000 for Star Impact and she has had 15 starts since for three wins and five placings for prizemoney of $113,875.

Star Impact ($3.70) sprinted quickly from the top of the straight to win by 1.65 lengths from Ambassadors. “It was a great result and a typical smart Aaron Bullock ride. He wanted to ride her back in the field. I wasn’t sure the mare would run the 1600m, but she was strong to the line. Her rating will increase so I will probably send her to Canterbury for a 1550m race in a couple of weeks” Minervini said.

Minervini has 18 in work and has trained more than 60 winners since he and wife Michelle moved from South Australia to Newcastle in 2019.

Randwick-based jockey Jackson Morris rode his second Newcastle winner in the space of four days when the John Thompson trained You And I led all the way in the Stronger Together For Spinal 4yo & Up Maiden Plate (1600m) by 4.64 lengths. Stewards fined Morris $200 for making a celebratory gesture before You And I passed the winning post. On Tuesday, Morris steered Double Scoop to victory for Thompson at Newcastle. Morris had been riding in Queensland and the Northern Rivers since November 2022 before his Newcastle win on Double Scoop.

Australia’s winningest trainer this season, Ciaron Maher, was successful with three-year-old Mornington Pier in the Prosperity Advisers Group Class 1 & Maiden Plate (1880m) courtesy of a cold ride from Andrew Gibbons. The latter settled the gelding in last place but started a long searching run around the field before the home turn. The gelding ground away down the long straight to reach the lead in the shadows of the post. Mornington Pier has had only four starts and will be even better over longer trips. The Gibbons family have built up a successful association with Maher. Andrew’s son, Dylan, won last year’s Sydney Cup and many other metropolitan races for Maher, while Andrew regularly has rides on the provincial circuit for the stable.

Gulgong speedster Smart And Dapper ran his rivals off their legs in the final event, the Connectability CG&E Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m). Trained by Brett Thompson, the four-year-old was a last-start winner of a Rosehill Highway on January 13, but was a drifter in betting from $6.50 to $9. Hunter Valley jockey Mikayla Weir rode the horse at Rosehill, and again on Saturday. She rode him hard to lead soon after the start and he took off to build a 12-length margin. He started to shorten stride late in the straight but held on to beat French Marine by a length.