THE battle for the $10,000 Case IH/Milne Bros Pioneer Park Premiership awards came to an exciting conclusion on Saturday when the Emerald Jockey Club staged a five race card.
With the win of Too Cluie in the 1100 metre Class B Handicap, and Larry’s Song finishing second in the 1200 metre Open Handicap, Ross Meek picked up the $5000 trainer’s award, finishing three points in front of Neil Boyle.
Too Cluie started a $15 outsider but she led the field into the straight and then bolted right away to score by two-and-a-quarter lengths with premiership-winning jockey Mark Barnham aboard.
Charmingly: $7, was doing his best work at the finish after getting back early and he just edged out Craiglea Cugar: $15, for second.
The Tony Button trained-Stoutfast took out the $3000 Horse of the Year award even though he finished near the rear of the field in the 1200 metre Open Handicap.
The eight-time Pioneer Park winner found the impost of 64.5 kilograms too big a task and was never in contention.
Button has since confirmed that “weight has now caught up with the horse and he will be retired”.
On the other hand, the Todd Austin-trained $3.20 favourite - King of the Kongo - looked impressive with an authorative win in his event.
He was well suited to the early speed event and when jockey Dale Missen was able to gain an unimpeded passage in the home straight, he descended on the leaders and came clear with something in hand to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths.
Larry’s Song: $4.60, stuck on well for second while the Glenda Bell-trained Cellular: $8, finished well to fill the minor placing.
Veteran Springsure owner Bill Squire is enjoying a good run of success at the moment and may have been happy with Larry’s Song’s second in the Open Handicap but he was “over the moon” when one of his other starters for the day, Layburn Lady, took out the 1000 metre Maiden Plate.
This four-year-old mare is trained in Roma by Craig Smith and is a full sister to one of the former great gallopers of this area in Wharton Willie, who was also owned by Squire and won 17 of his 39 starts.
Layburn Lady proved difficult to load and may need to improve her barrier manners, but from the time the gates opened, she showed all the attributes of her big brother and broke her maiden status by a half head from the Daniels’ family owned Stansavanna and Little Valentine: $26.
Ilfracombe trainer Henry Forster’s five-year-old mare Manners Please: $4.60, had won her previous start at Isisford and made it two wins on the trot when she got home by one-and-three quarter lengths in the 1000 metre Class 5 Handicap.
Placings were filled by Copacabana: $10 and Blast Master: $15.
There were emotional scenes at the presentation after the David Munns-owned and trained Lola Brigida showed her class by annihilating her rivals in the 1300 metre Class 3 Plate.
It was only a week ago that the local racing community was saddened by the passing of “Jacko” Ross, to whom Munns was apprenticed to as a jockey 29 years ago.
Munns has continued to live with the family since then .
It was also a special moment for one of Jacko’s daughters and her two children who now live in Ireland to be on hand to witness the moment.
Jockey Trinity Bannon started her move at the 600 metre mark and she cruised into the race and once she asked for an effort in the straight, Lola Brigida: $6 came right away to record a winning margin of four and a half lengths over the $3.50 favourite Senorina and Two Bob Snob: $10.
Local racing now goes into a break with the next race meet set down for Pioneer Park, Emerald, on February 12.
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