Lifeboat's win was an honour for connections

THERE were cheers and tears when a plucky little gelding named Lifeboat raced away to win the inaugural Daniel Baker Memorial Sprint at Coffs Harbour yesterday.

When the naming rights to the feature event became available earlier this year, a group of owners who were close to Daniel before his tragic passing in a race fall last December, suggested to the racing club committee the race be named in his honour.

And with the late jockey's mother, Debbie, looking on approvingly, veteran owner-trainer Bill 'Bot' Thompson stepped up to collect the trophy won by the lightly-raced galloper which he described as one of the most satisfying of his long career.

“We're almost locals, I guess, as we always base ourselves in Coffs for the carnival and my sons trained here for a long time,” Thompson said.

“I'm very proud to win the race named in honour of a fine young bloke like Daniel.”

It was the horse's third straight victory and according to winning rider, Mark Lister, the horse has come a long way since getting up at cricket score odds during the 2007 Grafton Cup carnival.

“He's been a very good horse to me as I won on him at Scone and we finished third in the Country Cup in Newcastle, so he and I know each other well,” he said.

“The owners have looked after me and we've had success together so it was great to win for them.

“I hope I can stick with him when they step him up to better company.”

Favourite Sectagonal set the pace early but Lifeboat moved up quickly on his outside to worry the leader.

As the runs came nearing the corner, Lister stole a march on his rivals and the further they went, the further in front the winning combination strolled.

“His record now is 13 starts for six wins and he knows how to put himself into his races,” the jockey added.

“With a fantastic sprint and a light weight, we were always confident of success.”

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