by Michael Manley
Casterton is regarded as a track for specialists and Sunday’s results confirmed that theory with both Elvison and Onset following up their wins in May with victories again.
The Symon Wilde trained fencer Elvison recorded his third win at the track when he took out the WC & AC Miller Steeplechase (3800 metres).
Unlike his previous win there which was by 25 lengths this time the dashing fencer only had a length and three-quarters to spare over Mapping.
Wilde was still impressed with the victory as Elvison was challenged with 1200 metres to go by Historic who made an early move.
Racing Victoria stewards questioned Historic’s rider Ronan Short regarding his tactics.
Short said he thought that was the only way he could defeat Elvison if he challenged him a long way out as when he won by 25 lengths at their last meeting he managed to get a soft lead.
Elvison was again ridden by Aaron Kuru and after they saw off Historic’s challenge they dashed six lengths clear.
They looked set for another big win but on this occasion Mapping took ground off him in the concluding stages.
“It was a good win. It wasn’t as much as last time but he was challenged a long way out. He carried a huge impost and he made a couple of errors but he was still good enough,” Wilde said.
Wilde said it was pleasing to know that Elvison was a Casterton specialist as horses who tended to win there kept on doing so.
“When I was growing up there were horses like Lazza and Half Moon Rising who just kept on winning there. He’s now had five starts for three wins there so he’s on his way to emulating them,” he said.
It was Wilde’s tenth jumps winner for the season and he’s hoping he can win the jumps trainers premiership which he leads.
Wilde said he would accept with Elvison for next Sunday’s $125,000 Thackeray Steeplechase (3450 metres) at Warrnambool.
“I’ll see how he pulls up. He’ll love the wet track and he’ll get a bit of weight relief,’ Wilde said.
Wilde also intends to run recent Australian Steeplechase winner Britannicus in the Thackeray Steeplechase.
“He’s not great on heavy ground but he trialled really well on it at Terang last week. He’ll probably go there then have one run and go out for a spell,” Wilde said.
Wilde is also likely to run Count Zero and Tolemac in the $125,000 Kevin Lafferty Hurdle on Sunday.
Another horse heading to the Kevin Lafferty Hurdle will be Eric Musgrove’s Casterton winner Onset, who won her third race for the season, when she was successful in the Davis Blinds Benchmark 120 (3480m).
It gave Musgrove his seventh win for the season and jockey Richard O’Donoghue his fourth and his sixth in total in his career.
Musgrove said O’Donoghue was going great guns in what was effectively his first full year as a jockey after gaining his jumps licence late last year.
Musgrove again praised the seven-year-old mares’ toughness.
“Last season she was running placings but with a bit of maturity she’s now winning. You find when you get a mare tough and honest mare over the jumps they put in every time they go to the races,’’ Musgrove said.
“Richard suits her and knows how to ride perfectly. She doesn’t have a long sprint and he manages to sit back and bring her into the race at the right time.”
He said although Onset would be contesting a feature race on Sunday, he had no intention of breaking up a winning combination as “she’s Richie’s ride.”
It was a thrilling finish to race with a line of three together over the last hurdle but O’Donoghue got enough out of Onset to defeat Tolemac by a head with Yulong Place third.
Onset was the second leg of a winning double for O’Donoghue as he also won the opening event the Ecycle Maiden Hurdle (3480 metres) on Gravistas who was a runaway eight lengths winner.
It gave former Mick Price foreman, Mick Nolan his first winner since he took out his own licence late last year. He had trained previously in Queensland before he joined Price with his last winner in late 2003 and his last runner there in early 2004.