Pocket sized mare Outback Diva is ready to return to midweek metropolitan racing following her devastating win in a 1400-meter Benchmark 70 Handicap at Newcastle on Saturday. Trained by Richard and Michael Freedman, the four-year-old, the $2.15 favourite produced a career best performance to race away in the straight to win by three lengths.
Newcastle’s premier jockey Andrew Gibbons who rarely rides for the Freedman stable was at his best on the favourite. “Gibbo” settled Outback Diva behind the speed with a lovely trail and when he called on the mare at the top of the straight, she exploded. Co trainer Michael Freedman praised Gibbons and the bonnie little mare.
“Andrew produced the perfect ride and this horse is so gutsy. We don’t get the opportunity to use Andrew because of his commitments to other stables. He rides Newcastle so well. Outback Diva was a problem earlier on with her barrier manners which cost her a couple of races. These days she begins well and has built up such a fine record. If only she was a hand bigger. Outback Diva can win a metropolitan race and we will head there next” Freedman said.
Gibbons replaced the injured Mitchell Bell on the promising Godolphin 3-year-old Anethole in the 1200 metre Maiden Handicap and the Thornton boy came up with a peach of a ride.
Anethole drifted back along the rail early in the race and when it was time to improve early in the straight the horse in front of him was under pressure and going nowhere. Gibbons waited patiently for the run to come and when it did, he drove Anethole up along the rail and the gelding wore the leaders down to win by 1 ½ lengths running away.
James Cummings and Godolphin made it a double for the meeting when classy filly Katalin recorded the easiest win of the meeting when she won the final event the 1400 meter Class 1 Handicap by 3.84 lengths. The shortest priced favourite of the day Katalin ($1.45) maintained her unbeaten record after a smart Warwick Farm win on debut.
The Hawkes’ training partnership have a good strike rate at Newcastle and the stable produced a smart 3-year-old filly on debut on Saturday. Front Money came off an easy Rosehill trial win and after beginning well in the 900-meter Maiden Plate, Shaun Guymer was content to sit three wide. The filly sprinted quick from the top of the straight and won easily. She will appreciate an even further trip than Saturday’s 900 meters.
Paul Perrys’ Mr Grumpy was the only locally trained galloper to win on Saturday. The $15 chance finished fast down the outside to run down favourite Battle Cry in the shadows of the post.