Written by Steven Pateman
None better than this Young bloke
Watching Exalted Lightning win the hurdle race at Strathalbyn on Wednesday confirmed to me (again) that Grant Young is the best trainer in South Australia at the moment.
He continually wins races with unfashionably bred or even poorly performed gallopers. His horses can win from sprint trips out to staying journeys or over obstacles.
Exalted Lightning had been out of form but Young managed to get him back to his winning ways. He scored on the flat last Saturday and then in the hurdle four days later.
Last season Young prepared horses that won prizemoney totalling $1,506,120 and he is fast closing in on passing the million dollars in earnings again this season.
Exalted Lightning’s hurdle win took Young past the $900,000 mark. That is quite an effort in a state where most races are contested for less than $40,000.
Full marks to the local industry in South Australia, providing a field of eight to tackle Wednesday’s hurdle on Wednesday. Each runner was a local (SA-trained and -owned).
You would have to go back many, many years to find a field of such a size in South Australia without a Victorian raider.
Well done also to the Strathalbyn Racing Club on hosting a hurdle race for the first time since 2008.
I remember finishing second on Snazzy Lad for Heather Frew way back then. Paul Hamblin on Donor, for Karen Byrnes, knocked us off.
The return to the venue and accompanying growth in field size is very positive news for South Australian jumps racing. The state has a long and proud history whichneeds to be built on, not forgotten.
Photo credit TODD NICHOLSON/RACING PHOTOS
Victoria hosted two jumps races at Terang last week.
I had a mixed day, with October Date racing a little flat before finishing fourth to Startierra in the maiden hurdle. Fortunately, my afternoon improved when Killarney Kid was a dominant winner of the benchmark 120 hurdle.
I’m happy to forgive October Date. He’s a lot better than he showed in that race. I think the earlier effort of tackling a couple of group races on the flat may have left him a touch below his best.
Startierra’s win was well deserved, following a close second at his hurdling debut. He has a large group of owners under the Hancox Bloodstock banner so it was great to have so many exposed to the delights of jumps racing.
Under the care of Aaron Purcell, Startierra can go on and win again this season.
Another horse that has more wins in store is Killarney Kid. He surprised me with how strong he was in his Terang victory.
When I asked him to improve coming to the turn he went past the field as though they were nailed to the running rail.
We won by 17 lengths but the margin could have been much greater if I’d let him go. Killarney Kid had a lot left in the tank.
Looking ahead to Hamilton on Monday we have two competitive jumps races.
In the Eulong Steeple I will be riding Zataglio for Eric Musgrove. Zataglio is a grand old jumper who is in fi ne nick for his return to ’chasing.
I schooled him recently and he gave me a great feel. We’ll have plenty of weight but I expect Zataglio to go really well.
One of the hardest to beat will be the Brett Charry-trained Grassini. I was very impressed with his trial win over the fences at Warrnambool on March 18. He looks a promising ’chaser.
I noticed on Twitter this week the talented Kiwi jumper Monarch Chimes is on his way back to Australia.
The Emma-Lee Browne and David Browne gelding displayed great form last season and capped things off with a third in the Grand National Steeple at Ballarat.
Watching him working up a very steep hill through Emma’s twitter account (@Em_spartaracing), the horse looks in excellent condition and on track to make his presence felt in Australia again.
The Australian Jumps Racing Association has unveiled a new website (australianjumpsracing.com) with all the news you need to keep updated on the jumps scene.
As well as being very informative, the site offers you the chance to help support jumps racing through some attractive membership packages, from as little as $50.
Check it out and get involved in what looks like being a great jumping season.