Jockey guides Lord Bryn to top win
JOCKEY Jasen Watkins made a triumphant return to his home track when he guided Save A Buck home in the Pink Silks Open Plate at Coffs Harbour yesterday.
Watkins had been out of the saddle since Sawtell Cup day last July, needing to fully recover from a shoulder injury suffered in a race fall earlier in the year.
Ironically, he resumed riding on the Trevor Hardy-trained gelding in last week's Inverell Cup and while they finished down the track on that occasion, the horse improved yesterday.
In keeping with the theme of the day, lady riders took out the opening two races.
Apprentice Priscilla Schmidt started the ball rolling for trainer Gordon Yorke when she kicked home beautifully-bred colt Lord Bryn in the 2-Y-O Maiden Plate after finding the best going on the heavy-10 course toward the centre of the track.
By shuttle stallion Fusaichi Pegasus (USA) out of a Marscay mare, the horse was bred by Willowpark Broodmare Farm on the same cross as Group One-winning brothers Elvstroem and Haradasun, making him not just an animal with potential, but very, very valuable.
The win came at his third start after being unlucky in the race won by Never Doubt Me at Coffs Harbour on December 30 when he raced greenly and struck himself in the run, to come back with a foreleg covered in blood.
“The horse was ready for that race today and we'll send him to the paddock now,” Yorke said.
“He's still young and probably shouldn't be racing yet but we thought it was best to give him his chance today.
“Give the girl some credit too as she rode him well and that's a big help.”
Schmidt is the daughter of Brisbane-based trainer (and former local jockey) Dwayne Schmidt and the granddaughter of Port Macquarie training legend Glen Hodge.
During a visit home for Christmas, Schmidt snr is reported to have revved up his daughter for her riding and suggested she become more aggressive.
The advice worked fine yesterday when the talented rider made all the right calls in the run down the straight.
“I had to click him up a couple of times to keep his mind on the job as he still seems to be learning,” Priscilla said.
“He wanted to look at the crowd down the outside fence but he's a lovely horse and once he learns what it's all about, the others had better look out then.”
Rival apprentice Sam Munro made it girl's day out when she won the Maiden Plate aboard third emergency Royal Onna.
The gelding started a friendless $43.70 chance with only rank outsider Empress Amy at a rougher price but won the race like a good thing.
Winning Ballina-based trainer Stephen Lee remarked “he might be the best horse I've ever trained” despite finishing near the tail of the field at all four previous runs.
Meanwhile, the Ballina TAB race meeting scheduled for tomorrow is in extreme doubt and a final track inspection will take place at 7am today.
Newcastle Jockey Club has made its track available for a substitute venue with runners from both the Coffs and Ballina meetings automatically nominated.
However, trainers must re-accept by 9am today if they wish to start.