Canberra trainers will be out in force this Friday for mid-Winter racing on the course proper and the first meeting held for the new financial year. The Club has increased prize money to $18,000 per race for all 8 races. This is an increase of $14,000 in prize money for the meeting. On alternate meetings this financial year the prize money on offer will be $20,000 per race.
Keith Dryden and Scott Collings will train horses in partnership next racing season out of stables in Canberra and Goulburn.
Canberra-based Dryden says the joining makes good sense given the business and travel demands required these days for a successful training business.
“I’m 70 now, and there’s a lot more work involved for trainers these days; a lot more race meetings; and you just can’t keep travelling all the time,” Dryden says.
Nick Olive-trained Single Gaze is back in work with major spring races in prospect including the Cox Plate.
At her most recent run, Single Gaze crashed to the Turf in the Australian Oaks; a fall that left jockey Kathy O’Hara badly injured and Single Gaze with bruising and a pulled stomach muscle.
Just two weeks before, the mare had provided Olive with his first Group 1 success when she saluted in the 2016 Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill.
The Canberra Racing Club will this Friday conduct the annual Schweppes Race Day which is the last meeting of the financial year for the Club. Schweppes representatives will host their race day function in the Rich Reward Room.
There are two more race meetings remaining in the Premiership season and currently Brendan Ward is a clear leader on 21 wins in the jockeys premiership and Matt Dale with a strong lead in the trainers’ premiership on 23 wins ahead of Keith Dryden’s 16.
It will be at least August before Canberra’s new synthetic (Acton) racetrack is ready for racing.
The delay means that the course proper will have to be utilised in the meantime.
Canberra Racing Club CEO Peter Stubbs says the materials required for the new surface have been shipped from Germanyand will arrive in mid-July.
He says the mixing and laying will take approximately 12 days and it is projected the surface will be ready for racing at the 12 August meeting.
With just a few meetings remaining, Brendan Ward has burst clear on the 2015-16 Canberra jockey premiership.
Ward has posted 21 winners — seven clear of Jay Ford (14).
Matt Cahill and Kayla Nesbet (both 13) are snapping at Ford’s heals.
Ward is striking at 19.4% and Ford at 20.3%.
In the Canberra trainers premiership, Matt Dale (23) holds a seven win lead over Keith Dryden (16), followed by Barbara Joseph-Paul Jones (11) and Nick Olive (10).
Dale has had 80 starters for an impressive strike rate of 28.8%.
Popular jockey Richard Bensley doesn’t remember much about the February race fall that left him immobilised in Canberra hospital and threatened to end his riding career.
Bensley was enjoying his best ever season and the Canberra Sunday meeting — the lead-up to Black Opal Day — was another that held promise.
But after placing second in the fourth event, Bensley’s race-day ended when his mount fractured a near foreleg in the Maiden Plate and collapsed to the turf bringing three horses down around him.
Promising Canberra filly Miss Liffey is ready set for her return to racing.
Miss Liffey has won four of her six starts - all at Canberra.
Her only ‘outs’ were both in the city where she didn’t meet the best of fortune.
Trainer Trevor McIlrick says Miss Liffey has been in work for a while and has come back in terrific order.
“She’s got a fair bit of upside I think you will find,” McIlrick says.
Last start Wagga winner Stratum’s Siren is primed to run a big race in Saturday’s Highway Handicap at Rosehill.
Up-and-coming Canberra trainer Luke Pepper says Stratum Siren’s two runs at the Wagga carnival were super — culminating in a CL3 win as hot favourite.
“She is a terrific little mare and is spot on for Saturday’s race,” Pepper says.
Classy Canberra sprinter Fell Swoop will miss the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap following his defeat in Saturday’s Doomben 10,000.
Trainer Matt Dale says Fell Swoop is being spelled in Queensland before returning to Canberra to be prepared for a spring campaign.
Fell Swoop got caught in a speed battle in the Doomben 10,000 and did well to hold on finishing 2.5L behind the winner Music Magnate.
Jockey Zac Purton was one of three hoops questioned by stewards over their race tactics.