By Michael Manley
Top trainer Henry Dwyer equated Riding High’s win in the Australian Steeplechase to a victory in a Group One race after his dashing seven lengths win at Sandown Lakeside on Sunday.
Dwyer, who has trained two Group One winners, said winning the Australian Steeplechase was a huge thrill.
“You win Group Ones and that sort of stuff but there’s no greater feeling than winning a feature jumps race with a nice horse,” Dwyer said.
“It’s a good sport, the jumps enthusiasts love it. Whether it’s risk and reward, I don’t know, but winning a jumps race is a huge thrill.”
The win gave Dwyer his biggest win in a jumps race.
Dwyer said he was looking at starting Riding High at Hamilton next Tuesday in a Steeplechase but decided to take on the Australian Steeplechase after he saw the nominations.
He wondered whether Riding High had the right form to take on a feature race but decided to back his jumper in saying his form would have been better except for issues and excuses.
The win gave Clayton Douglas his first win in the Australian Steeplechase.
Douglas said Riding High would be a better jumper next year and could be an ideal Brierly Steeplechase horse.
In the Australian Hurdle, champion rider Steve Pateman, recorded his third win in the race with a runaway ten lengths win on Saunter Boy.
The victory by the imported galloper owned by Australian Bloodstock gave leading trainers Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace their first win in the race.
Eustace said that performance was what they expected from Saunter Boy in the Galleywood Hurdle when he finished fourth when he didn’t jump well.
Eustace said they decided to trial him at Cranbourne in the lead-in to the race and with Pateman aboard he got his confidence back.
“It was bloody awesome. He got a really, really good ride. Steve just judged it perfectly. He jumped better,” Eustace said.
“It’s great for Australian Bloodstock. They’ve put a lot of support into us not necessarily over jumps. They’ve got two nice jumpers and we’re going to have a lot of good fun with them.”
Pateman said Saunter Boy was suited by the Sandown circuit.
“Ciaron’s instructions were, for the first half of the race or even more, was to get his confidence back jumping so I was very quiet on him and just letting him figure it out,’’ Pateman said.
“He can gallop. He’s a good galloper. He does a lot of trackwork gallops here so he knew where he was and he scooted down that hill and it was all over.”
Pateman identified him as an ideal Grand National Hurdle prospect.
In the opening race, Ballarat trainer Andrew Noblet continued his success with the first jumper he has trained Out And Dreaming who followed his win in a Warrnambool Maiden Hurdle with a win in the Benchmark 120.
His rider Tommy Ryan said he felt Out And Dreaming had a big future and had the capacity to take on the fences later in his career.