Country racing in WA this weekend kicked off in the Avon Valley, with Northam hosting an eight-race card on Friday night. With COVID restriction still in full swing, the club unfortunately had to close its doors to patrons, but there was plenty of action on the track throughout the night, with all eight races going to eight different trainers.
Hes A Charmer made it two in a row for owner and trainer Chienoa Foster in the first. With two scratchings, the small six horse field saw the four-year-old gelding firm into favouritism and after working to the lead early, Hes A Charmer managed to kick away for a 10m victory for driver Mark Reed.
After a lengthy delay in the second due to a fall in their first attempt, race two got under way over an hour past the original start time advertised, with the $34 shot Girlfromdandalup coming from behind to win narrowly by a neck for Kellerberrin trainer Tom Groves and driver Shane Butterworth. With three late scratchings before after the first attempt, all horses were reported as fine, however Trainer/driver Garry Sayers was conscious after his fall but was taken to the local hospital.
Ross Olivieri and Chris Playle teamed up in race three with the favourite Celebrity Chef getting the job done after working her way to the lead early in the piece from barrier four. Starting first up for the stable since entering WA, the Olivieri trained pacer had not raced since July last year.
Dylan Egerton-Green may have been at Gloucester Park on Friday night, but his runner Smooth Rye was in Hayden Hancock’s capable hands, with the four-year-old mare saluting in the fourth. The Allwood Stud owned runner recording her first win since August, in a mile rate of 1:57:1 over the sprint journey.
“I expected Aldo’s horse to be a bit too good, but she has been racing well with bad barriers and not much luck. I Knew that I would be a strong chance of not eating this week if I didn’t perform driving first up for Dylan.” Hancock joked.
Secret Operation has been impressive at his last two starts, but it was no surprise that the Aldo Cortopassi trained and driven runner started as the short-priced favourite when he drew barrier one on Friday night in race five. Having just his third start for the new stable, the four-year-old sat behind the leader, managing to win by 5.5m in 1:59:1 and a last half of 56.7 seconds over the 2190m.
After a five-hour road trip from Albany, The Nathan Dymock trained Just A Smile turned the stables luck around after the stable mate Summer Moon was a late scratching earlier in the night after falling. Just A Smile started off the front line in the stand and was able to lead all the way, staving off rivals by 8.2m in race six. With Donald Harper in the cart, the $9.50 starter broke his maiden status at his 28th start.
Hayden Hancock walked away with a driving double, with Farriers Trouble making it two in a row in just five days. The Brent Scott trained four-year-old notched up his second career victory at just his third start at impressive odds; $16, adding some value to the last leg of the quaddie.
“He (Farriers Trouble) went really good. Brent said that he is lazy in trackwork and can’t keep up so I’d say that’s a sign that there should be a fair bit of improvement in him. He is really green and learning what racing is about but winning when he has no idea what he is doing is a good sign.” Hancock said.
Star Like became the latest maiden graduate when the double west bred four-year-od took out the last race for trainer Sarah Suvaljko and driver Trent Wheeler.
Racing will be back in the Avon on Saturday the 29th of May.