REGAINING his trainer's licence late last year, former Victorian based Sam Kavanagh burst onto the State's country features scene when preparing Sikandarabad to a convincing win to take the $150,000 Carlton Draught Coffs Harbour Cup last Thursday.
Now based at Muswellbrook, Kavanagh has been rebuilding his stable, that included the June edition of Sikandarabad, who is an Irish bred son of Dr Fong (a grandson of Roberto), a stallion who can be recalled on the shuttle service to Widden Stud in the early 2000s.
"I bought him online for $100,000, and everybody thought I was mad," said Kavanagh after his Cup win. However, Kavanagh proved his good judgment, researching the horse's soundness and form that included a third and a fourth in Group 1 races.
Under the guidance of Coffs Harbour Racing Club manager Tim Saladine, about 500 trackside people - including myself - attended as documented participants, had temperature checks and socially-distanced with all running smoothly, part of the procedures that has helped the racing industry to operate under COVID-19 restrictions.
Kavanagh referred to the COVID-19 situation as aiding a path for the eight-year-old gelding.
"In a normal spring he may struggle to get to the top races, but with Covid, a lot of horses won't travel so we'll probably nominate him in the Epsom and Metropolitan (October at Randwick)."
The win gave his Hunter Valley-based hoop Aaron Bullock a program double having earlier partnered the Cody Morgan, Tamworth-trained Ronan's Rock to win the Showcase Mile Class Two Handicap.
Port Macquarie based hoop Belinda Hodder was beaming when returning aboard The Drake who took the $50,000 Coffs Harbour Toyota Daniel Baker Showcase Sprint.
The Smart Missile gelding is trained at Port Macquarie by Jenny Graham, and was cheered home from local part-owners including Billy Wilson, Glen Adams, Colin Purcell, and Steve Batchelor .
Local conditioners figured with winners - Brett Dodson (Galway in the first), Brett Bellamy (Secrets No More in the last), and Graham Payne.
Payne's winner was Yulong Knight - an Irish bred galloper by Invincible Spirit, which was also an online purchase via an Inglis digital sale. Publican of the Stuarts Point Tavern, Payne has four horses in his stables with major shareholders - Aileen and Darrell Kidd from Newcastle, among the trackside patrons. Connections also had a winner last week when Baileys won at Scone.
Veteran Taree trainer Ross Stitt was also happy to take home a winner when Strategic Maneuver gelding, Fair Dinkum, won the Toormina Hotel Benchmark 58 Showcase.
ANOTHER major country cup last week was the Forbes Cup, The Sledgehammer giving his Wellington conditioner, Michael Mulholland, back to back wins in the Central District's feature following the win of Steamin' last year.
Ridden by the gelding's regular apprentice Kath Bell-Pitomac, the six-year-old by So You Think made it three successive wins from three starts since his transfer from Queensland, making for happy connections.
The Sledgehammer defeated the Cup favourite Highly Desired (by Wanted) trained at Gosford by Luke Hilton.
A top price of $260,000 paid by Darby Racing and Will Johnson Bloodstock for unraced racing prospect Noble Privilege, concluded Magic Millions Bloodstock's delayed National Sale at the Gold Coast last week.
A trial winning colt by Lonhro, Noble Privilege was among 30 lots offered in the racehorse section, and was part of the Estate of the late Eduardo Cojuangco dispersal, who initiated - with huge success, Gooree Park near Mudgee. All 30 lots of the racehorse section sold, for a $1.8 million gross, averaging $60,000.
Day one of its yearling section saw a top of $360,000 achieved for a colt by Arrowfield Stud's shuttler Shalaa, which is a son of I Am Invincible's champion UK sire Invincible Spirit.
Buyers spent $10.2m for the 191 sold yearlings (now juveniles) on Day 1, from the 255 offered, for a $53,800 average. Topping the vendors' list for gross sales and by average (for two or more sold), Arrowfield Stud also sold the second top lot for a Snitzel filly, from National Colour, which fetched $300,000.