The performances of fencer Stern Idol and hurdler Bedford at Pakenham underlined there’s a changing of the guard at the top in the Victorian jumps racing as both are emerging stars.
Bedford’s winning margin in the Brendan Dreschler Hurdle (3500m) was less than a length but it was the manner of his win which suggested he could be the one to take the title as the state’s best hurdler from Saunter Boy.
His jockey Tommy Ryan had no hesitation in stamping Bedford as the new potential star hurdler after the win.
“He’s exciting. He’s 100 per cent a Grand National horse,” Ryan said.
Ryan said it was a big win as he made an early run and hit the front too soon.
Ryan sat back in the run but made an early move with 800 metres to go to get to the outside of Bell Ex One.
“He’s a big horse, he’ll have no problem taking on the bigger jumps later on,” Ryan said.
Ryan said Bedford was a great advertisement for jumps racing as he was the only jumps horse in the Anthony and Sam Freedman stable.
It was Bedford’s third win from four hurdle starts with his last three coming in a row.
Champion hurdler Saunter Boy shared the lead with San Remo but was under pressure early in the straight and weakened to finish fifth.
While Bedford’s win wasn’t by a big margin the other feature race, the Mosstrooper Steeplechase (3500m) was a one act affair as Stern Idol led throughout and won by 20 lengths.
His jockey Willie McCarthy, who has ridden in the United Kingdom and the United States said Stern Idol was the best horse he had sat on in his long career.
McCarthy said his job was basically to give Stern Idol a few breathers in the run.
The former French jumper Stern Idol is raced by an ownership group put together by Gerry Ryan which consists of high-profile Melbourne sportsmen and businessmen.
He was having only his third run over the fences and his first since he was eased out of the Grand Annual Steeplechase.
Declan Maher, who runs the jumps arm of the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable, said Stern Idol was an exciting horse.
He said he could have his next start in the Crisp Steeplechase (4200m) at Sandown on August 6.
Another highlight of the meeting was the cameo appearance of Darryl Horner Junior at Pakenham as he was successful on Nothin’ Leica High in the PB Ronald Memorial Maiden Hurdle (3500m) at Pakenham.
At the start of the year, 30-year-old Horner took up a carpentry apprenticeship and now regards himself as a part time rider.
The victory gave him his 100th career win as a jockey.
Nothin’ Leica High is trained by Rachel Cunningham who said Nothin’ Leica High was better suited on a firmer track as he didn’t handle the heavy track at Warrnambool at his previous run.
“Despite his wheels spinning at Warrnambool we thought he had run a great race so we came here confident he would run well,” Cunningham said.
Willie McCarthy continued his good recent form with a narrow win on The Rattlin’ Bog in the Ecycle Solutions Hurdle (3200m) for Aaron Purcell which gave them two wins in a row with the jumper.
Aaron Kuru continued his great season with his 12th winner when he rode That’s Incranibull to win the Ecycle's Maiden Hurdle (3200m) for trainer Patrick Payne.
Another great victory was recorded by Killouney for Paul Preusker when he won the Ecycle Solutions Maiden Steeplechase (3500m).
Killouney was ridden by the Grand Annual Steeplechase winning jockey Chris McCarthy. It was McCarthy’s first day back riding since he was injured in a fall on May 31.