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Pateman's big grey day at Pakenham



by Michael Manley

It was greys to the fore in the feature races with victories by former European gallopers Saunter Boy and Valac at the Pakenham jumps racing card on Sunday.

Champion jockey Steve Pateman piloted both to win and he's hopeful of more success to come with the pair.

Pateman continued his great association with Saunter Boy who won the $125,000 Brendan Dreschler Hurdle (3500 metres) and began a new one with the $125,000 Mosstrooper Steeplechase (3500 metres) winner Valac, as he has become his trainer.

It was an emotional Pateman after Valac's win as that was also the first time he had ridden and trained one of his gallopers to win a race and it was also his first feature race win as a trainer.

Valac was sent to Pateman after falling at his previous two starts, when trained by Lindsay Park, and he said his wife Jess had to take a lot of the credit for the win.

Pateman said he was thrilled Lindsay Park had given them a chance to train Valac.

He said his wife Jess had done a lot of dressage work with Valac and they had to teach him to find his own way and find his own stride.

“Feature race. It’s huge. Big thanks to Jess who did a lot of show jumping and flat work with him,” Pateman said.

Pateman said Valac would now be aimed at the $350,000 Grand National Steeplechase (4500 metres) at Ballarat on August 28.

Australia’s premier jumper Saunter Boy kept his undefeated record in 2022 over the jumps intact with an easy win in the Brendan Dreschler Hurdle at Pakenham on its feature jumps Sunday.

Saunter Boy has won his four-feature hurdle races this year with victories in the Bourke Hurdle, the Galleywood Hurdle and the Australian Hurdle before the Dreschler Hurdle.

He has now won his last five hurdle races and seven of his last eight. He has now won nine out of his 12 jumps starts.

His only failure was when he failed to finish in last year’s Grand National Hurdle and he’ll be out to make amends at his next start in the 2022 $300,000 Grand National Hurdle (4200 metres) at Sandown Lakeside on Sunday, August 7.

His trainer Ciaron Maher can’t wait for the Grand National Hurdle but realises Saunter Boy will face a bigger challenge going back to a handicap race.

“The weight scale suited him today. He won’t be as suited, but the extra distance will suit,” Maher said.

“It was a pleasure to watch as he’s not a dashing hurdler. He’s a clever jumper.

“He’s a happy horse. He’s been great for Australian Bloodstock. He hasn’t done much wrong,” he said.

Saunter Boy was ridden by champion jumps jockey Steve Pateman who recorded his sixth win on him and he’s been aboard for all the wins this year.

“He was awesome. He looks amazing. It was another confidence boosting win. He’s very fit and he wasn’t overly taxed,” Pateman said.

Earlier in the meeting, the Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace stable produced former French galloper Stern Idol to win his second start in a row for them when he again thrashed his rivals with a dashing front running display.

He followed his 27 lengths Australian debut win with 15 lengths win in the Ecycle Solution BM120 (3200 metres).

The former French galloper, who was ridden by Frenchman Selim Agbal led by approximately 100 metres with 1200 metres to go.

Maher said Stern Idol, who he said was the biggest horse he had trained, had a very big future especially if he could be taught to harness his energy with more experience.

Maher said Stern Idol was raced in France by his managing owner Gerry Ryan where he had raced over the jumps and he had been well educated.

The win gave Agbal his second career win and he said the best way to ride Stern Idol was to let him run as he didn’t like to be held up.

“He jumped very well. Most French horses are good jumpers. They are given a bit more time. They teach them the basics as the jumps are a bit bigger so they need to teach them properly,” Agbal said.

A sense of adventure and intrigue, plus escaping a hot summer has found English jumps jockey Fergus Gregory riding in Australia this winter and he scored his first local win when successful in a maiden hurdle on Slipintothis at his third Australian ride and he thanked Pateman after the win.

“It’s mainly thanks to Steve Pateman. He’s taken me under his wing and he’s really looked after me. He had to ride his own horse in this and he got me my four rides today,” Gregory said.

He said he schooled Slipintothis at his trainer Patrick Payne’s property on Saturday and said he felt like “an old handicapper.”

In the opening event, 32 year-old Daniel Small rode his second winner and his first jumps winner when he was successful on Hostar for Warrnambool trainer Peter Chow.

Small is a son of the man associated with riding Vo Rogue, Cyril Small and is the older brother of fellow jumps jockey Braidon. He only began riding in April.

Chow said Small deserved success as he was very dedicated and at the track six days a week to work.