Home-town trainer Stephen Gleeson's Pippi's Pride snares Sandy Hollow Cup at Skellatar Park track

WINNING CONNECTION: There were smiles all around when Pippi's Pride won the TAB.COM.AU Sandy Hollow Cup on Sunday. Pic: MAT DOCKERTY PHOTOGRAPHY
WINNING CONNECTION: There were smiles all around when Pippi's Pride won the TAB.COM.AU Sandy Hollow Cup on Sunday. Pic: MAT DOCKERTY PHOTOGRAPHY

PIPPI’S Pride, the Muswellbrook-trained eight-year-old marvel that has found a new lease of life, won his third successive feature race on his home track when he scrambled in to win the TAB.COM.AU Sandy Hollow Cup (1450m) on Sunday.

Port Macquarie-based apprentice Cejay Graham adopted slightly different tactics to when she led all the way on him to win the Denman Cup and Kayuga Cup last month.

This time she let him settle in second place behind Dreamnomore (Josh Adams) then challenged for the lead in the straight.

He then got involved in a battle with Miami Dade (Adrian Layt) and, despite changing stride near the line, fought back to beat that horse by half a head with Steamin’ (Chad Lever) a further half-length away third.

Trainer Stephen Gleeson believes this might be the last time Pippi’s Pride will be seen on a country track except in major feature races.

“He is going to get more benchmark points and go up in weight even further so I will probably have to restrict him to provincial races now,” he said.

“The advantage there is that Cejay can claim 3kg at the provincials.

“It is amazing this horse is doing what he is doing but the key is that he is racing on good tracks.

“He would not be doing this if there had been any give in the track and this shows just how good this track is.”

Pippis’ Pride had not won a race since December 2015 until this current trio and Gleeson gives much of the credit Graham.

“She is such a balanced rider and she understands him,” he said.

One country feature race that Gleeson will give thought to is the $100,000 Muswellbrook Workers Club Muswellbrook Cup (1500m) on March 29.

“I will think about it but he would need a freshen-up before-hand,” he said.

Graham returned to scale sporting a wide grin and shaking her head.

“He is a different horse every time I ride him,” Graham said.

“Never mind that he is an eight-year-old, he did things wrong at his previous two wins but he got it right this time.

“He has a mind of his own and you have to let him do things his way.

“Stephen told me to settle him where he was comfortable and he was happy to settle in behind the leader.

“He didn’t want to hang off on the turn either like he did in the previous two wins.

“He changed stride near the line. In fact, he changed stride several times and each time he did he went up another gear.”

***

STEPHEN Gleeson’s winning streak continued when Voyages won the Muswellbrook Cup Day 29th March Maiden (1500m) and gave Greg Ryan the second leg of a victorious double.

Two races earlier Ryan won the Horsepower Maiden (900m) on the Pat Farrell-trained Slimline.

Voyages, a five-year-old, was having only his seventh start and at one stage his position in the stable was in severe doubt.

“He was a real handful as a young horse and still is and if he hadn’t shown some ability he would have been out the door,” Gleeson said.

“It has taken a lot of patience from everybody to get him to this point.

“I think he might eventually get out to 1600m because he is a horse that can settle in a race.”

Ryan settled Voyages ($3.80 second fav) in fourth place on the fence, got a split at the top of the straight and went on to win by three quarters of a length from Jazzland.

Slimline was lucky to get to the races after Farrell found him with swelling in his off-side hock 24 hours earlier.

“I was going to scratch him but the swelling went down,” Farrell said.

Ryan got him to the lead from his inside barrier soon after the start and went on to win by a neck from the heavily backed Destiny’s Choice.

***

WYONG trainer Stephen Farley only has four horses in work but led in his second winner in seven days when Engadine (Chris O’Brien) jumped from the outside barrier to win the Magic Millions Three-Year-Old Maiden (1000m).

A week earlier he won with Bryan’s Babe at Kembla Grange and followed up with a third with the same horse at Newcastle on Saturday.

Engadine is a younger full-brother to Big Legged Woman, which won her second race at Muswellbrook in July.

“He is a lovely type of horse but has no idea what racing is all-about, despite three trials,” Farley said.

“He can have one more start; it’s all part of his education then probably go for a break.

“This horse is a better type than Big Legged Woman while I also have a yearling full bother at home.”

All three are out of Big Nell which Farley trained to win races at Newcastle and Kembla Grange but later she was injured and was retired to stud.

O’Brien quickly had Engadine ($10) across and racing on the outside of the leader and once he got him balanced up in the straight shot to the lead to win by one and a quarter-lengths from the $2 favourite Bubbles Ball.

Engadine’ winning time 57.03 was a class record and the winners of the first three races, all maidens, returned class record times.

***

THE Kris Lees-trained I Am Awesome (apprentice Louise Day) over-came a tough run to score an impressive win in the Adelaide @ Coolmore Class Three (1500m).

Day was trapped three wide, without cover, for the whole trip but the mare went on to win by a length to record her fourth win from 12 starts and take her record at Muswellbrook to two wins from as many starts.

“She is a nice mare but is still doing a few things wrong,” stable representative Keyran Forbes said.

“That was a good ride from Louise because she did not panic when trapped out there.”

I Am Awesome ($2.60 fav) won by a length from Net Effect ($9).

*** 

BID’N’Bare, a mare that trainer Kristen Buchanan describes as a work in progress, scored her second win from her third start when she careered away to win the Saunders Motor Group Benchmark 58 (1280m).

The mare has progressed quickly winning her maiden at Taree at her second start then backing up for this win.

“She is a mare with a lot of ability but she is a handful and still has a lot to learn,” Buchanan said.

“I wanted to see her do this.

“I will keep her going for a while but she still has a lot of developing and maturing to do and I think he will be even better next preparation.”

Jockey, Jeff Kehoe, settled Bid’N’Bare ($4.20) in second place then raced away in the straight to win by one and a half lengths from the $3.50 favourite Asudem.

***

THE long-priced $41 win by Lonfino (Mikayla Weir) in the Godolphin Benchmark 58 (1000m) was a bitter sweet victory for owner-trainer Kellie Nichols from Wyong.

Lonfino returned to scale with blood seeping from both nostrils, the second time he has bled which means he is automatically disqualified from racing again.

“He has been a real trier and always tried his hardest,” Nicholls said.

“It is great that he can go out a winner and now I have to find a nice home for him.

“I think he would make a good eventer.”

It was a tough win by Lonfino which was forced to race wide, mid field, and was the widest runner on the turn.

He gradually wore down the leaders to beat Raheen Lady ($26) by half a length with the favourite Traumatised a further short head away third.