Return to racing proves popular with punters

Russ Meyers and Lyn Bee from Wagga Wagga, NSW soaked in the friendly atmosphere at the July race meeting.

That more than 400 patrons booked online again signalled that thecountry racetrack has a magnetic affect of encouraging residents to gettogether, to enjoy themselves while witnessing top class country racing, withexciting finishes the order of the day.

The Longreach Jockey Club went to great lengths to provide a safeenvironment, for patrons with additional security, seating spread across the entirevenue, an orderly bar service ensuring social distancing and, most importantly,temperature testing of everyone entering the precinct.

Patrons conducted themselves in a manner that drew praise fromauthorities and showed that awareness of social distancing is the new normal,thus ensuring the ability to have crowds at the races if the current Covid-19conditions remain the same.

The racing did not let the crowd down on the day, with the two OpenHandicap races providing thrilling finishes for the crowd lining thefence.

The Ringrose and Button Appreciation Open Handicap 1400 metres hadodds-on favourite Bollente aiming for its sixth straight win, but strongopposition was expected from proven gallopers Eschiele and Hunter Island.

Bollente had the run of the race off the pace coming to the turn withEschiele and Hunter Island close behind.

Once heads were turned for home, Bollente momentarily hit the lead butthe usual sprint of late was missing and Eschiele and Mishnah took the leadwith 100 metres to go and appeared set to fight out the finish but from theclouds Hunter Island burst down the centre of the track to snatch victory in aphoto from Eschiele with Mishnah a quarter length away in third and Bollente afurther length away in fourth.

The feature win was a welcome return to the Longreach track for jockeyJosh King who has only recently returned to riding following an injury and hejudged the finishing burst perfectly on the Patrick O’Toole-trained gelding.

Racegoers were then treated to a thrilling finish in the “Mighty Mort”Appreciation Open Handicap 1000 metres when crowd favourite Kakakenny and MediaVita fought out the finish after a length of the straight battle with MatthewGray getting Media Vita up in the last few bounds to snatch victory fromKakakenny with early leader Boot Shaker almost four lengths away third.

The Todd Austin-trained gelding has now chalked up two wins and sevenminor placings from only eight runs for the stable and in winning deniedKakakenny its third win in a row.

When the country premiership trainer comes to town with an in formstable jockey to ride for the team it is a good sign for punters to follow buton Saturday the Billy Johnson/Dakota Graham double started at lucrative odds of$5 and $11 respectively.

Johnson has been in a close battle with North West trainer, Tanya Parry,for this year’s Country Premiership title, but the wins by Buwan and Sidetripclinched the title for Johnson, giving him a five win margin. Buwan proved toostrong for Phoenix Shadow and Sassy Style in the Brown Brothers AppreciationQTIS Maiden Plate 1200 metres, whilst Sidetrip was aided by a rails-huggingride by Graham to snatch victory from Archade and Show ‘Em in the Watts andCooper Catering Appreciation Class 6 Plate 1200 metres.

A trainer quinella and a sire quinella featured in two races on theday.

Trainer David Rewald provided the quinella in the Race Day StaffAppreciation Ratings Band 0-60 Handicap 1600 metres when Nothing to Danceoutstayed stablemate You’re Not Wanted to win by a length after jockey TessaTownsend stalked Rewald throughout the race before taking control in thestraight. Froze, under a big weight, battled gamely for third.

In the Trainers and Jockeys Appreciation Benchmark 50 Handicap 1200metres, sire Golden Archer provided the quinella when Boy Forster-trained ForThe Records ridden a treat by Ray Hancock proved a little too strong for theClinton Austin-trained Golden Street with Snip ‘N’ Drift a close-up third.

Austin only had to wait until the following race to gain a stablevictory when the ever consistent Serpenti (Dan McGillivray) raced away fromLet’s Go Champ and Dragon In The North to record a convincing win. ApprenticeMcGillivray utilised Serpenti’s natural speed to be in a great position turningfor home before releasing the brakes and racing away to score by over twolengths.

Racing returns to Barcaldine on Saturday, August 8, for a TAB/SkyChannel 2 meeting.