Spring racing on the Newcastle Jockey Club’s magnificent racetrack is as good as it gets, and last Sunday’s race meeting, which was the last of the Spring feature meetings at Newcastle was special. It was the annual NJC Legends Day, with the meeting sponsored by O’Neills Tyres. The six legends were John Wade, Robert Thompson, Alan Scorse, Kris Lees, Paul Perry, and Gary Harley. Wade, rider of the great Luskin Star flew in from Queensland for the meeting.
Racing opened with the Paul Perry 2yo Maiden Plate (900m), and the race created plenty of interest as James McDonald drove to Newcastle for one ride – Blanc De Blanc, an I Am Invincible filly. Only four two-year-olds faced the starter and Blanc De Blanc, a long odds-on favourite had to fight hard to beat John O’Shea’s Saltaire by a ½ Neck.
It was a busy weekend for Newcastle trainer Nathan Doyle. Doyle was trackside at Caulfield on Saturday when his crackerjack mare Norwegian Bliss suffered her first defeat in eight starts. She was beaten ¾ length in the Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes. Doyle returned to Newcastle and saddled up two winners at the Legends Day. He combined with Welsh jockey Ashley Morgan for both winners.
Doyle’s Diamond Tipped was backed from black figures into $1.75 before winning the Maiden Plate (1300m) by ¾ length. “He has shown me so much this horse, he has been very frustrating. He has had issues at the gates and whatnot” Doyle said.
Doyle’s other winner Kingdom Of Gold contested the staying event, the Gary Harley Benchmark 64 Handicap (2340m). He was strong late, nailing the leader Rosie Impact in the shadows of the post. “Last start he never touched the bridle the whole race at Hawkesbury. He was good today; he travelled a lot better” Doyle said.
The speedy Tragara’s easy win in the Alan Scorse Memorial Maiden Handicap (1300m) was well deserved. The filly has been placed in three Newcastle maidens this preparation, and last start the filly was run down late at the Canterbury night meeting on November 11. Michael Freedman trained the smart Blanc De Blanc earlier in the day, and Tragara completed a double for the popular trainer. Freedman was unlucky not to go home with a treble as his blueblood filly Ishani had no luck in the Kris Lees Maiden Handicap (900m).