Another Warrnambool Three Day May Racing Carnival has come and gone with beautiful weather– even sunshine on days one and two – bumper crowds and a sensational display of Jumps Racing matched nowhere else in the world.
This year’s Carnival featured 23 flat races including the $200,000 Listed Sungold Milk Warrnambool Cup over 2350 metres on Day Three and the $150,000 Listed Wangoom Handicap over 1200 metres on the middle day and seven jumps races including the $150,000 Scotty Stewart Brierly Steeplechase over 3450 metres on Day One, the $150,000 Sovereign Resort Galleywood Hurdle over 3200 meters on Day Two and the jewell in the crown $350,000 Waterfront by Lyndoch Living Grand Annual Steeplechase on the final day.
Without doubt the highlight of this year’s Carnival was the Brierly/Grand Annual double. Both races, run two days apart, and fought to the finish by the same two horses the Simon Wilde trained local Gold Medals and the Patrick Payne trained Zed Em. Having run a total of 8,950 metres and successfully negotiating 52 fences there was only a total of 0.6 lengths between the pair with Gold Medals coming out on top on both days. Gold Medals being the first horse to do so since the John Wheeler trained Franko Verymuch thirteen years earlier. The same two horses had previously fought out the Australian Steeplechase at Sandown last season.
It doesn’t get any better than that and is testament to the success that Jumps Racing in this Country is currently enjoying.
I suppose every success story has a Hard Luck story attached to it and this year it belongs to popular Irish Jockey Shane Jackson who successfully steered Gold Medals to victory in the Brierly but had previously accepted the ride on the Butch Londregan trained King of The Forrest in the Grand Annual. What was to be the winning ride went to the up and coming Clayton Douglas, son of former champion jumps jockey Vic Douglas who produced a master class ride to take first prize. To make matters worse for Shane he was fined $1,000 for negligence for pulling up his horse when he could have finished ninth and picked up $7,000 prize money for connections. Make no mistake though, Shane will be back in the winners circle in the very near future.
The third feature jumps race of the Carnival was the $150,000 Sovereign Resort Galleywood Hurdle over 3200 metres on the Wednesday and was won by Two Hats trained on the course by Aaron Purcell and looks to have a very bright future and hard to beat in any of the Major Jumps Races on the calendar this year. He was partnered by another son of a gun Braiden Small son of the famous Cyril Small who piloted the great Vo Rouge to many brilliant front-running victories.
A very positive sign also was the decision to divide the Maiden Hurdle on Day One into three divisions. Because of the positive support given to Jumps Racing, owners now have the confidence in investing in horses with a jumping future and this gesture is rewarding that support by making sure that as many of the nominated and accepted horses are getting a start. The three winners were the Jarrod McLean trained Cougar Express, Kothu Rotti, John McArdle and Flying Casino, Eric Musgrove. A Benchmark 120 Steeple was also added to day two attracting eleven acceptors and was won by Henry Dwyer’s The Dominator.
Away from the Jumps the flat races were again dominated by champion trainer Darren Weir with wins in the two feature flat races The Wangoom with Handsome Thief and theWarrnambool Cup with Gallic Chieftain and a total of 12 wins for the three days. Best of the local trainers was Simon Wilde with three wins on the flat and Gold Medals wins in the Brierly and Grand Annual.
All in All another Warrnambool Carnival to remember. See you all next year!