Track specialist Annandale Lass headed for the $100,000 MRS Services Group Muswellbrook Cup

IRON MARE: Annandale Lass is headed to the $100,000 MRS Services Group Muswellbrook Cup (1500m) on Friday, December 8, after winning the Cup Prelude (1450m) on Monday. Pic: KATRINA PARTRIDGE PHOTOGRAPHY
IRON MARE: Annandale Lass is headed to the $100,000 MRS Services Group Muswellbrook Cup (1500m) on Friday, December 8, after winning the Cup Prelude (1450m) on Monday. Pic: KATRINA PARTRIDGE PHOTOGRAPHY

IRON mare and Muswellbrook track specialist Annandale Lass is headed to the $100,000 MRS Services Group Muswellbrook Cup (1500m) on Friday, December 8, after winning the Cup Prelude (1450m) on Monday.

Annandale Dale lived up to her toughness tag with the victory following her fifth at Rosehill on Saturday after being three wide for much of that trip.

Her Muswellbrook win came at her third run in 10 days with trainer Dean Jackson nominating her from Friday’s Cessnock Cup.

“A start at Cessnock is not out of the question but the Muswellbrook Cup is our goal,” he said.

“She just loves this track and has to be one of the toughest horses racing.

“She always tells me when she is ready to race so I will see how she does in the next couple of days before deciding on Cessnock.”

Annandale Lass has now won three races from nine starts at Muswellbrook and run another four placings.

Jockey Jean Van Overmeire had Annandale Lass back third behind the leaders Next Level and Alliterate but stormed home late to win by a long neck from Gadfly with Lady Marmaletta a further three quarters of a length away third.

Stewards ordered a pre-race test on Annandale Lass to ensure she was not dehydrated because of the fact she had raced two days previously.

Gary Portelli said Next Level would go on to the Cup despite finishing second last.

“They went too hard early and he got no peace in front,” Portelli said.

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BARR Hill, the mare that kicked off the training career of Muswellbrook’s Andrew Robinson, resumed from a spell to win the Godolphin Benchmark 50 (900m) with Robinson praising the water walker at Scone.

“She will be on the truck and back up to the water walker this afternoon,” Robinson said.

“She will have seven days up there then come home.

“This mare loves racing fresh and the water walker is an essential part of that.

“Sending horses up there mixes up their routine and keeps them interested and fresh.”

Apprentice Courtney Van Der Werf, who rode Barr Hill, was effusive in her praise of the trainer.

“Andrew is an expert at freshening up his horses and having them ready on race day,” she said.

Van Der Werf settled Barr Hill in second place behind the heavily-backed favourite Norah Girl before racing away down the outside to win by two lengths from Miss Gigi with Norah Girl finishing unplaced.

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DIMINUTIVE filly Showgals was not supposed to race at Muswellbrook on Monday, her first up goal was a two-year-old at Kembla Grange last Saturday.

However, the Kembla meeting was called off and fortunately for trainer Gary Portelli and the large syndicate of women who race the filly, they accepted for Muswellbrook’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale Two-Year-Old (900m) which she won after leading all the way.

Later in the day Portelli made it a double when Hutcho (Alison Threadwell) saved himself from banishment by winning the Bengalla Mining Benchmark 61 (1280m).

Andrew Gibbons picked up the ride at the last minute on Showgals.

“We thought she would win at Kembla and I only accepted here as a precaution and now I’m glad I did,” Portelli said. 

“She is only small, but she races like a much bigger horse.

“When I got her out of her box at the Gold Coast sale I liked the way she lengthened her stride and that’s why I bought her.

“I want to get her qualified for the Magic Millions, but this has been a good starting point.”

Gibbons was impressed with her toughness.

“What you see is what you get but she is tough and she tries hard,” Gibbons said.

Showgals won by half a length from Ragged Rascal with the odds-on favourite Don’t Doubt Arthur never looking likely with a distant third.

The win by Hutcho came at his second run back from a spell.

“He was disappointing first up and if he didn’t win today he could have been off to Western Australia or North Queensland,” Portelli said.

“It was a good ride from Alison.

“She is strong and I like the way she makes horses like this do their best.” 

Theadwell settled Hutcho in third place on the fence and never went around a horse.

She sent the horse to the lead at the top of the straight and punched him out to the line to win by a length from the Mark Schmetzer-trained Love None. 

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REBECCA Dunn was in tears after Forever Ranga (Aron Bullock) won the Arrowfield Maiden (1000m).

“It’s been a crazy 24 hours,” Dunn said.

“My dog Keira got bitten by a black snake last night and while I haven’t heard from the vet no news is good news.

“This win can pay for the vet’s bills.”

Forever Ranga was having only her seventh career start despite being a five-year-old and making her debut with a good fourth at Port Macquarie in September last year. 

“There was obviously something wrong with her, but it took us a long time to find the problem, a dry knee joint,” Dunn said.

“Now that we have solved the problem she will hopefully go on and win more races.”

Forever Ranga showed she was ready to show her true ability when she resumed with a good second at Muswellbrook on Melbourne Cup day.

Bullock settled her in third place early before coming away in the straight to win by three quarters of a length from the pace maker Hermano (Andrew Gibbons).

Dunn’s day was made complete when Lady Marmaletta turned in a good cup trial when third in the prelude. 

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ROBERT Thompson believes that the David Atkins-trained Andriana is ready to step up in distance after over-coming an awkward start to win the Great Northern Super Crisp Lager Maiden (1280m).

The mare was having only her third start after two previous placings at Muswellbrook including a last start second Paris Sizzler on Melbourne Cup day.

“She was slowly away and then we got into a bit of an awkward position before we got travelling,” Thompson said.

“We got a clear run at the 300 metres and she hit the line nicely.”

Andriana raced away to win by two and a quarter lengths from Testaview with Zanjan a further length away third.

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A SUGGESTION from Josh Adams proved a winning move when the Todd Howlett-trained Roy’s Command survived a tight photo finish to win the 1st Rubick Yearlings in 2018 Class One (1450m).

Adams put the idea to Howlett after riding the horse at his last two starts for successive seconds at Muswellbrook.

“It was the right move, putting the blinkers on early in his career then taking them off,” he said.

“I love riding this horse because he gives everything he has got.

“He is a better horse than winning in a photo finish.

“Once he matures a little more he would beat these horses by two lengths.

“I think the horse has a future, I like him a lot.”

Howlett also has an opinion of the Commands colt.

“He is only a three-year-old and still learning,” he said.

“Once he matures and learns more he will be a nice horse.”

The win was a consolation for Adams who went into the meeting favourite in the jockeys’ challenge but had gone winless until this race.

Roy’s Command just lasted with Adams virtually lifting the horse over the line to beat the top weight Dizzy Success by a short half head.