Given the responsibility of riding the favourite in the Coonamble Gold Cup on Sunday, inexperienced apprentice Reece Jones came through with flying colours when winning the $45,000 feature race on the Rod Northam-trained Red Knot.
Jones, 22, who is indentured to Northam at Scone, commenced his race riding career less than six weeks ago and had only ridden two winners before the important assignment in the Geronimo Farm Equipment & New Holland sponsored Cup over 1600 metres at Coonamble which attracted a capacity 16 horse field.
Riding before the biggest crowd seen at Coonamble for at least 30 years, Reece Jones took Red Knot to the early lead from Wild Cavalier, Genetics and Apache Lad.
Over the concluding stages Red Knot ($2.80 favourite) was challenged but held on to win by a long neck from All But Gone (Josh Oliver, $10) which came home well along the rails while Hirokin (Mathew Cahill, $9.50) was a handy third.
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A one million dollar yearling sales graduate, Red Knot is owned by Paul Frampton and Reg Inglis and was originally trained by Gai Waterhouse at Randwick.
Included amongst the wins since joining the Rod Northam stable has been the 2017 Coonabarabran Cup – a likely target again on Monday, October 22.
Formerly a trainer at Coonamble and now with a big team in work at Wyong, Damien Lane was the toast of his old hometown when winning the first three races on Cup day with Thiswilldous, Kate’s Pearl and Kanguru.
Mick Heaney, a hardworking vice-president of the Coonamble club, organised a local syndicate comprising himself, Matt White, Adam Firth, Greg Tyack and Jen Law to race Thiswilldous with Damien Lane.
The plan to win a Maiden race on Cup day came to fruition when Thiswilldous (Jake Hull, $1.65 favourite) led throughout to breeze home over four lengths clear of Zamali (Mikayla Weir, $51) and Regal Cannon (Jake Pracey-Holmes, $3).
Damien Lane had to be content with a close second in the Cup with All But Gone however he won another feature race, the $27,000 Keady Family Crystal Sprint (1200m) with Kanguru (Rachael Murray, $6.50) which came from midfield with a rails run to beat Desert Marshall ( Mikayla Weir, $8.50) by a short half head.
The $27,000 Loch Lomond Border Leicester Stud Baradine Cup (1400m) saw a close finish with the Clint Lundholm, Dubbo-trained Hammoon Bridge (Mathew Cahill, $5.50) bursting through the pack and then holding out Austin (Alena Skerritt, $5) and Quietly Confident (Andrew Banks, $21).
After more than 30 years as the official starter at central and western area tracks, Coonamble’s Ray ‘Icy’ Canham has retired and sent them on their way for the final time in the 1600m Batterline Earthmoving sponsored ‘Icy’ Canham Appreciation Class 3 Handicap at his home track on Sunday.
With a powerful finish from last of the 14 runners, the Rod Northam-trained Athena’s Voice (Rachael Murray, $3.70 favourite) swept to a two lengths win over Western Parade (Greg Ryan, $8) and Podium Bound (Ken Dunbar, $6.50).
Other winners were the Darren Hyde, Dubbo-trained Tokyo Bullet (Andrew Banks, $3.90) and Charmed Princess (Mikayla Weir, $4.20) trained at Gosford by Tony Newing.
Ken Waterford as president, and the live wire committee, were understandably thrilled with the success of Cup day at Coonamble.