The Newhaven Park hosted party for country racing participants may have proved a hit at the Kelly family owned Doncaster Hotel at Kensington on Friday night, but it was all business the following day for Day 1 of The Championships at Randwick, the Newhaven Park Country Championships Final a highlight.
The mighty Winx and jockey Hugh Bowman opened the card with an exhibition gallop prior to the first race.
A few races along, Bowman rode favourite Noble Boy to convincingly win the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final. Trained by Todd Blowes at Queanbeyan, Noble Boy defeated 15 rivals who hailed from different country regions.
The southern districts took centre stage not only with the winner but also the third placegetter Bennelong Dancer, a Master Of Design mare prepared at Albury by Donna Scott.
The Mid North Coast took second spot with Casino Prince mare Lucciola Belle, trained at Taree by Wayne Wilkes.
"It's the grand final for country horses, and it holds a special place in my heart being from country NSW," Todd Blowes said after the win.
Noble Boy's win was not only another victory for the southern districts based prolific sire Bon Hoffa, who stands at John and Helen's North's Bowness Stud, Young, but also being bred in the region by Donna Smart at "Donoxley" at Koorawatha.
"He (Noble Boy) had a couple of small preps early on, but he was so big I decided to leave him in the paddock for a while to grow," Donna said.
The tall chestnut gelding has won six of his seven starts and is raced in partnership between trainer, Donna, Jeremy Braun, and Troy Tipping from Queanbeyan.
Coming off a win in the ATC Tulloch Stakes-G2 at Rosehill in March, Angel Of Truth relished the soft going and 2400 metre trip when giving his Kembla Grange conditioner Gwenda Markwell a rare Group 1 win, leading for most of the way to easily take the $2 million time honoured classic Australian Derby.
Angel Of Truth is by Arrowfield Stud's former shuttler Animal Kingdom.
Vale John McNair
Remember when the mighty Hay List streaked away at the top of the Randwick straight only to be mowed down by Hall Of Fame mare Black Caviar in the 2011 AJC T J Smith Stakes-G1?
By Stature Of Liberty, Hay List would have been awarded champion, if legendary Black Caviar had not been around at the same time.
Now deceased Hay List (who finished second four times to Black Caviar in Group 1 races) is recalled as his trainer John McNair passed away last week following a short battle with cancer.
John rose to Group 1 occasions from humble beginnings as a "backyard" conditioner in Western Australia, before taking on the nation's best from his and wife Sue's base at Somersby near Gosford on the Central Coast.
Mustard and Ears' Ronny were other favourites in the McNair stable.
By former shuttler Vettori, Mustard raced 131 times for 17 wins, 12 seconds and 18 thirds for more than $800,000 in prizemoney. He had his final start at Gosford as a 14-year-old.
Bred and raced by the McNairs, Ears' Ronny (Western Australian foaled by US import Ron Bon), won 12 races, had 14 seconds and seven thirds from 137 starts with more than $500,000 in earnings.
Extra Albury races
While the celebrated Albury Cup had to be abandoned recently, an additional race meeting carrying $240,000 in prizemoney has been programmed for the border town on Thursday, April 18.
"The addition of a Showcase meeting provides the opportunity for a wide range of trainers and owners in the region to race for prizemoney that would have been paid on Albury Cup Day," Racing NSW Chief Executive Peter V'landys said.
Racing NSW abandoned plans to reschedule the Albury Gold Cup race, due to the difficulty in finding a suitable date in coming weeks that does not clash with Group 3 races in Melbourne and Sydney over the cup distance of 2000 metres.
Another forthcoming major Riverina 2000 metre highlight is the Murrumbidgee Turf Club's Wagga Wagga Gold Cup, which is a listed event worth $170,000 scheduled for Friday, May 3.