Apprentices make their ’’presents’’ felt at Barcaldine Christmas race day

The Barcaldine Race Club received a great response for its Christmas-themed day, with a big crowd in attendance, full program sponsorship by Ray White Longreach/Barcaldine and live music returning to the race track.

It was a great way to finish racing in the Central West for 2020 after such a tumultuous year due to Covid-19.

Apprentice Alisha Ross is making the most of her return to the saddle by following-up on doubles at recent Blackall and Barcaldine meetings with a treble, two of which were for her master Todd Austin and the other for Clinton Austin.

It was a great way for Mr Ross to celebrate his birthday when Ross produced a gun ride on the very consistent Angels Of Fenway to defeat a game Blaine by a half-length, with a further three lengths back to Our Girl Tamiya in third in the 1000m Benchmark 55 Handicap.

The race developed into a two-horse race from the start as Ross ensured Angels Of Fenway pressured Blaine for the lead throughout, yet maintained enough ’’petrol in the tank’’ to fight-off Blaine’’s challenge in the final 200m.

The Spirit Of Boom gelding has put together two wins and three placings from the last five starts.

Trainer Todd Austin would have been very pleased with the wins by Ross on Night In Paradise and Sizzalating for different reasons.

Night In Paradise races in the late Denis O’’Brien colours and has been racing consistently without lick in the previous five runs for the Austin stable, but in the 1000m Benchmark 55 Handicap, Alisha Ross made use of barrier one to hold her position just behind the leaders.

When the leaders shifted ground on the turn, Ross accelerated on Night In Paradise to grab a lengthy lead and then rode her mount strongly through the line to hold-off Floss’’ Dream and Boom Or Bust, giving the stable and part-owner, Rob Bauer, an emotional victory.

The Austin stable produced the much talked-about Sizzalating for her second start in the area in the 1200m Class B Handicap after the gelding had demolished the maiden field by 11 lengths at Blackall. Owners Pam and Bob Carolan were on hand to witness their promising gelding do the same, albeit this time by almost four lengths.

Sizzalating had to do a bit of work early as Ross found herself in a three-wide position from the jump, but pressed forward to be challenging for the lead turning for home. The Sizzling gelding found another gear in the straight to repel the brief challenge by Strike Point and Viking Clap, racing clear for a very convincing win in a fast 1.08.07.

The times run and the manner of wins suggests Sizzalating will be keenly followed when it races next.

Earlier in the day, Roma trainer Craig Smith combined with stable apprentice Dan McGillivray to win the 1200m Maiden Plate, with the home-bred Drumbeats mare The Beat which held-off My Fixation and Pacquola in a tight finish. The win further franked the form of Sizzalating as The Beat ran second to that gelding at Blackall at its previous run and enjoyed stepping out to the longer distance.

Stable representative Courtney Smith explained post-race that The Beat has only had seven starts due to an injury, so hopefully, the mare can continue to build on her race record.

Trainer Rodney Little and apprentice Emma Bell have a great association, and none better than Boingo which produced a very game run to record win number 10 in the 1300m Open Handicap.

Bell jumped Boingo smartly from the gates as the mare traveled sweetly in second place to the home turn where Smooth Consul and Best Guess were making runs. On straightening, Bell urged Boingo to a slender lead, but was being challenged by Best Guess which had endured a wide-run throughout.

These two had a great battle over the final 100m, with Boingo showing great courage to prevail by a head, with Van Winkel over two lengths away third. Boingo has been ultra-consistent of late, recording three wins and two placings from the last five starts.

Apprentice Jake Molloy bounced back from the narrow defeat on Best Guess to produce a gun rid on the Billy Johnson-trained Froze to win the 1600m Benchmark 60 Handicap by three lengths from Shadow Vision and Jarhead.

A solid tempo had been set by Jarhead and Shadow Vision from the jump, and Molloy sat patiently in fifth before gaining rails to close in on the leaders coming to the home turn. The apprentice waited in the straight until a run presented itself off the leaders’’ heels and then rode Froze through the line for a convincing win.

Racing returns to the Central West in late February, 2021.