The Newcastle Jockey Club’s The Hunter race day on Saturday was a resounding success with record betting turnover, a full house under the Covid restrictions, and a perfectly prepared track following a deluge during the week. On the track racegoers were treated to a superb performance by a future Group 1 winner in the $1 Million The Hunter.
Lost And Running, not far away from Nature Strip in the Everest and runner up behind Eduardo in the Classique Legend Stakes, was the class runner and the well backed $2.50 favourite in The Hunter.
With Australian Hall Of Fame jockey Hugh Bowman in the saddle, Lost And Running was trapped wide with no cover from his wide barrier however, he raced clear at the top of the straight and quickly put the issue beyond doubt. Lost And Running won by 1 ¼ lengths from the Kris Lees trained Wandabaa ($41) with English trained import Top Ranked ($4.20) a close third. The second and third placegetters are raced by Hunter based syndicators Australian Bloodstock. Lees has trained the runner up in all three The Hunter events.
The winners trainer John O’Shea was visibly excited following the race. “He is a class act and I am really proud of the horse. When we got home after the Classique Legend Stakes he put on 5 kilograms so I knew it was no need to send him to the paddock. I decided to give him a crack at The Hunter. This is a great race on the best track in Australia” O’Shea said.
Newcastle boom apprentice Dylan Gibbons in only his second season of riding steered home the winner of Group 3 New Zealand Bloodstock 3 Year Old Spring Stakes (1600m). The 20 year old was aboard the front running filly Festival Dancer trained by Matthew Smith.
She had won her previous three starts and Gibbons took her to the lead and she led all the way. “I don’t think I can put this win into words. This is something I always dreamed about as a kid, these big moments. To do it here, my home track is unreal” Gibbons said.
The $300,000 The Beauford (2300m) is a new race on the Newcastle calendar and on Saturday it was the ladies who were celebrating. Tough stayer Torrens trained by Laurie Parker and ridden by Gosford apprentice Jenny Duggan led most of the way in the inaugural running of The Beauford. Both Parker and Duggan are mothers and the jockeys children Max and Seb cheered from the grandstand.
The Max Lees Classic for 2 year old’s was another feature race and the Peter and Paul Snowden partnership produced filly Russian Conquest to win on debut on Saturday. The Snowden stable has dominated the Max Lees Classic winning with Strasbourg (2018) and Tila Rose (2019) in the past. Russian Conquest was purchased for $425,000 at the Magic Millions Yearling sale.
TAB turnover on The Hunter Day increased by 30% on previous year’s figures. Top jockeys James McDonald and Tommy Berry were full of praise for the Newcastle track.