By Gavin Stubbs
In a day of thrilling finishes amongst a highly charged atmosphere of competitive racing, Woolamai and District Race Club hosted its third meeting of the season on Saturday afternoon. The camera in the judge’s box had to work overtime to separate not just the winners but placegetters too in several races; however Cranbourne jockey Dani Walker took it all in stride as she chalked up a double to snare riding honours on the six race programme.
Riding with tenacity, patience and vigour, Walker was able to bring her horses into the race at just the right time to gain the ascendancy over adversaries and find the finishing line when it mattered most. Under mild and sunny conditions that appeared ideal for all on track, the first race on the card saw local Woolamai jockey Sophie Logan pick up where she left off, guiding the Cranbourne trained Mystyko home for win number two at the Woolamai circuit this season.
After being slowly into stride, Logan didn’t panic and was able to guide Mystyko into clear air around the home turn and put a gap on rivals in the straight. The young Woolamai jockey, who rides regularly for the strong Shae Eden stable, continues to build an impressive record and is starting to show a particular affinity for her home track. The ease of the win must surely have connections now pondering a race closer to the metropolitan area, perhaps at midweek level.
Race two saw the first of Walker’s wins, aboard the Seymour trained Mirrabilly. The nine year old horse was positioned just off the leaders till the home turn and then presented for its run down the centre of the track before clinging on to victory in a driving three way finish. The third event on the card would have seen backers of the Sale trained Dreams Do Come True nervous as the gates opened, with the horse missing the start by several lengths.
Jockey Grant Seccombe, showing steely nerves and a calm demeanour, calculated that the shortest way home was along the rails. Without going around a single horse in the race, he was able to navigate the said path to a comfortable victory. Grant’s Grandfather Ron Keddie was on track and would no doubt be proud of the way his grandson rode, as it was the first time he had been there to witness Grant cross the finishing line in first place.
Race four went to last start Woolamai winner Mr Gogarty, bringing up the second of Walker’s wins. In a race of tactics that saw the action heat up a fair way out, Mr Gogarty strode up with purpose to the leaders with around 500metres to run and after a stirring battle up the home straight, again proved his staying prowess to prevail in the shadows of the winning post. Cranbourne trainer Ray Caldwell has done a superb job to nurse his horse back from a tendon injury and no doubt savours every victory.
The fifth event was a good result for Pakenham trainer Di Clover, whose horse Shes A Head Turner cruised to a comfortable win. Veteran jockey ‘’Razor’’ Ray Douglas took full advantage of the inside gate, with the horse never headed from the start and eased down over the concluding stages to score by three lengths. The final event was another ripper finish, which saw the Cranbourne trained Barley Mo make it two wins in a row. Trainer Rachel Cunningham and rider Max Keenan have combined to give the horse two confidence boosting wins and Keenan’s experience was evident in the final 100metres as he steered the mare home to score narrowly.
Cranbourne trained horses took honours for the afternoon with three of the six winners trained there. However, the day belonged to Walker, courtesy of her two dashing winning rides and this brought up her first winning double since daughter Zoey was born two years prior. Leading Bendigo rider Courtney Pace was unable to break through on the afternoon, with the Woolamai circuit again proving tough for her to find the winner’s stall. However, given her determined attitude and finely honed skills the champion jockey possesses the capacity to strike form again at Woolamai before long.