Gary Harley – Wrap – 30.09.23

Former Newcastle trainer Ben Smith, based at Kembla these days, put punters on the back foot in the early stages of Saturdays Newcastle Jockey Club race meeting. Smith who was at Randwick, trained the first two winners at Newcastle at odds of $61 and $21.

Vieste, a three-year-old filly by Japanese sire Maurice, friendless in the betting at $61 stunned racegoers in the opening event, the Hunt Hospitality Provincial Benchmark 64 Handicap (1850m) when she came from near last at the top of the straight to win by a nose. It was Vieste’s second race start after she was a $101 chance when ninth of ten at Newcastle on September 15. The winner was ridden by south coast jockey Robyn Freeman, who rode Smith’s second winner Mah Ali in the following race – the Class 1 Handicap (1500m). The filly had not finished in a place in three previous starts, however she improved greatly with blinkers on for the first time on Saturday. Like her stablemate Vieste, Mah Ali mowed the opposition down from the tail of the field at the top of the straight.

Smith, born in Scone where he was a Rugby League first grade Premiership winner in his younger days, trained for many years at Newcastle before a break from training in 2018. While in Newcastle he trained crack sprinter In Her Time, winner of the Group 1 Galaxy and two-year-old El Dorado Dreaming, winner of the Group 1 Randwick Sires Produce.

Newcastle trainer Nathan Doyle landed a double at the meeting and both winners were at double figure odds. Salisano, formerly trained by Bjorn Baker was on debut for Doyle after three barrier trials, and after opening $26 she drifted to $51 in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1200m). Koby Jennings took Salisano to the front from the outset and she was never headed, hanging on to win by a neck.

Doyle’s Hide Your Heart, a last start Scone winner at double figures, was a $14 chance in the final event, the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1300m). Ridden patiently by talented Wyong apprentice Anna Roper, the mare unleashed from the tail of the field to win by 3/4 of a length. Doyle has had a great start to the current season with 15 winners, only one less than Newcastle’s premier trainer Kris Lees in NSW.

The Gai Waterhouse-Adrian Bott training partnership dominated the Randwick meeting with four winners, and at Newcastle the partnership was successful with first starter Jon Bon in the Super Maiden Plate (1200m). The colt, ignored by punters, was a $21 chance and in form apprentice Amy McLucas let him stride to the front, and he led all the way.

The only favourite to win at the Newcastle meeting was Brad Widdup’s filly Confess Our Dreams In the Maiden Handicap (900m). She raced in third place but was strong late to win narrowly. The three-year-old was primed for her first up win with two barrier trial wins in September. Confess Our Dreams opened at $1.90 but drifted to $2.45 at barrier rise.

Short course specialist No Statement took his racetrack prizemoney to more than $300,000 when a narrow winner of the Benchmark 64 Handicap (900m). It was the five-year-olds tenth win, and his third from seven starts at Newcastle. All of his wins have been from 900m to 1100m. No Statement was allocated the huge impost of 65 kg however, apprentice Molly Bourke’s 3-kilogram allowance was beneficial.