Newcastle's new $1 million Pages Event Hire Hunter Mile race program has ensured its longevity, following the successful inaugural event at Broadmeadow on Saturday.
While it was an easy win for Godolphin's Street Cry five-year-old mare Savatiano and hoop James McDonald in the feature race, the Hunter and North-West Racing Association were also represented with three wins, two prepared in the Upper Hunter Valley.
The region scored the quinella in the TAB Highway Handicap when Trophies Galore provided the first metropolitan winner for Muswellbrook conditioner Andrew Robinson. The Reward For Effort four-year-old mare defeated the Scone trained Weather Channel, a gelding by former shuttler Zoffany.
This preceded the win of Pinup Miss, a mare prepared at Scone by John Ramsey. John has been a well-known identity at major yearling sales via his family's Turangga Farm, also owners and breeders of the Al Maher four-year-old. John is now making a name for himself as a trainer with a small stable of horses.
A recent thrill for the stable emerged at the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival when John's mare Never Listen (by Turangga's former stallion Trusting) finished second (to Miami Bound) in the Group 1 VRC Oaks at Flemington.
Waiting for scratchings to elevate her 'third emergency' entrant to gain a start, Tamworth trainer Sue Grills prepared Burning Crown, a deserved winner of the Hunter Civilab Handicap.
Sue paid $24,000 for the Helmet four-year-old at the Magic Millions Adelaide Yearling Sale, and while the gelding won his last start at Coonabarabran in track record time, he brought connections heartache when he was a late scratching at the barriers on Everest/Kosciuszko day at Randwick. Able to display his natural speed, Burning Crown went close to the 1400 metres track record.
The million dollar races continue, next in line is The Gong, the rich feature highlight scheduled for Kembla Grange this Saturday.
Grand producer recognised
Pouring through the 42 race meets that were held around the nation on Melbourne Cup day, one particular winner at Devonport in Tasmania took my interest.
Geegee Blackprince won over 1650 metres that day (for four wins in total), and belongs to the throng of "gee gee" named gallopers bred and racing in the Apple Isle.
A number of these - including Geegee Blackprince who is a five-year-old gelding by Melbourne Cup winning sire Americain, is trained by Stuart Gandy at Broadmarsh about 40 kilometres from Hobart.
Interestingly Geegee Blackprince was produced by La Quita, a non-winning daughter of long ago Upper Hunter Valley shuttle horse Grand Lodge, the dam of an amazing nine winners, two of these stakes winners.
While all of La Quita's runners have done the majority of their racing in Tasmania and most of them not competing at the highest level, any broodmare that produces a winner year-in-year-out and nine times over deserves recognition.
Five other of the mare's winners are by successful Tasmanian based sire Wordsmith, a Testa Rossa stallion also owned by the same connections as La Quita and her progeny, Elizabeth and Paul Geard.
La Quita's best produce to date is Geegees Blackflash, a winner of 22 races including six stakes and $1.193m.
Geegees Blackflash is by the 2003 AJC Australian Derby-G1 and Epsom Handicap-G1 winner Clangalang, sire of four stakes winners. He is a stable companion to Wordsmith (who was a Melbourne Group winner) also the sire of four stakes winners, both stallions found at Geegee Stud, Broadmarsh.
Tragedy struck Aquis Farm in Queensland recently with the sudden death of its promising first crop juvenile sire Spill The Beans.
This was only days after the Snitzel sire son was represented with his first two-year-old winner when hot favourite and debut starter Tennessee Boy won over 1000 metres at Townsville.
Tennessee Boy, defeated juvenile gelding Molongle Drifter - another debut starter by Spill The Beans.
A three times Group winner, Spill The Beans was the busiest first season sire in Australia in 2016 and had continued to prove popular with broodmare owners. He had already covered a large portion of mares this season before his untimely death.