Jockey Wayne Wheatley returns to scale.
Jockey Wayne Wheatley returns to scale. Bruce Thomas

Propheteer wins VB Handicap

THE party at Coramba Hotel was expected to run well into the night after ‘pub horse’ Propheteer won the VB Gold Benchmark 55 Handicap (1200m) on a rain-soaked Coffs Harbour racecourse yesterday.

Trained by Paul Smith and ridden by former local Wayne Wheatley for a syndicate of owners based around the Orara Valley, the gelding showed a liking for the circuit by recording his third win on the track.

“We worried how he would go in the heavy going as the last time he’d run in these sort of conditions he finished unplaced,” part-owner Darren McEwan said.

“It’s just a bunch of mates having a bit of fun with a horse and we’ll enjoy a few drinks thanks to him, tonight.”

The gelding was sourced for the group by Ken Lantry and the now Newcastle-based trainer was first into the enclosure to congratulate connections.

“How was that for a ride, Kenny?” Wheatley quipped after piloting his first Coffs winner for about 18 months.

Pacemaker Auk tried to set the agenda in front like he’d done last week to win at Grafton but a bunch took him on, with the lead changing several times.

As the field began the run up the straight most riders headed for the outside section apart from Scott Thurlow on Little Pumpkin who hugged the inside running.

Thurlow’s gamble momentarily looked likely to pay off until his mount’s condition faded at the distance and Propheteer ran home doggedly to score narrowly out wide.

“I was a bit worried coming to the corner but once he got to the outside, he tried real hard,” Wheatley said.

The race went ahead only after a meeting between stewards and jockeys followed the fourth event.

Some riders were concerned at visibility problems caused by scudding showers throughout the day and asked for an opinion on the safety aspects.

However, racing club chairman Alan Johnson said the general feeling had always been the meeting wouldn’t be abandoned.

“There was only surface water in places and while the rain stayed away, there was no problem,” he said. “Peter Graham rode at Taree on Monday and said this was a better surface.”

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