Gary Harley – Wrap – 24.06.2023

Rising five-year-old Ruby Flyer, enjoying his best preparation made a one act affair of the Newcastle Jockey Club’s feature race on Saturday. It was the annual Port Stephens Cup over 1600m, and the talented Ruby Flyer was not popular with punters, drifting to $7.00.

The winner came out of the rails barrier and jockey Rory Hutchings drove him out of the gates to sit third and fourth on the rail. After a cosy run, he eased around the leaders at the top of the straight and continued to race away to win by 3 ½ lengths. Lightly raced, Ruby Flyer has won three of five starts this preparation by margins of 5 ½ lengths and 2 ½ lengths prior to Saturday’s victory. Jason Attard & Lucy Keegan-Attard train the winner, and he is ready to return to metropolitan racing.

Above average two-year-olds contested the HPM Legrand Excel Life Smart 2yo Maiden Plate (900m) and there was only a nose between the placegetters when the judge called a halt. The $2.30 favourite Shako from the Godolphin James Cummings stable was backing up after a close second on debut at Newcastle on June 3. He drew well and travelled outside the leader before he joined the speedy Toyger. Bjorn Baker’s $300,000 Zoustar filly Starmae stormed home late. The photo finish revealed that Shako won by a nose from Starmae, with Toyger a gallant third. Heavelon Van Der Hoven, rider of the runner-up fired in a protest against the winner claiming interference in the last 100m, however it was dismissed.

Both Van Der Hoven and Jean van Overmeire completed the meeting with doubles. Van Der Hoven was aboard the $1.90 favourite Gently Rolled, an easy winner for Bryce Heys in the Midway Maiden Handicap (1200m). The young riders second winner was the consistent Afterboomer for Annabel Neasham in the Robus Duke2 Maiden Plate (1400m).

Van Overmeire had an armchair ride on the odds-on favourite Winning Point in the opening event, the 3M Industrial and Safety Class 1 & Maiden Plate 2300m. The filly won by 5 ½ lengths and her next start is expected to be during the Grafton July Carnival. Later in the day van Overmeire enjoyed an easy win aboard the Kristen Buchanan trained Epicus in the Nexans Electrify The Future Provincial Class 1 Handicap (1400m). It was the winners second success in his past three starts.

Aaron Bullock is enjoying his best season, and he had to call on all his strength to land the Arrowfield three-year-old Florino a winner in the Klein Tools Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m). Florino is building an impressive record with three wins and a second from four starts. Bullock has ridden 163 ½ winners for the season.