** Kindly supplied by the Western Australian Racing Trainers Association
A recent survey indicates that most Perth trainers are in favour of having trials switched from Monday to Friday while jockeys overwhelmingly support the change.
Perth is the only State in Australia that does not have Friday trials.
According to trainers, the benefits of the move would be more exposure of WA trials on Sky Racing and TVN as well as allowing extra days if trainers want to back their horses up at the following Saturday race meeting.
The Northam-York area is in urgent need of improved training facilities to help those trainers already resident in the area and to encourage others to settle in the district, according to a group of Northam trainers. “The Avon Valley’s close proximity to the metro area and affordable land prices would attract younger trainers seeking a more relaxed rural life style and bring employment opportunities and investment into the region,” they say.
According to the report, some 34 trainers have left the area since the 1980s seeking better training conditions. They say the closure of grass at Northam for refurbishment has left a sub-standard sand track suitable only for slow work.
The WA Trainers’ Association is to look at this situation as well as other problems with provincial training tracks. Their meetings, open to all trainers, are held at Perth Racing offices on the last Friday of each month.
OLD FASHIONED RECRUIT
There was a time when apprentice jockeys were recruited from the kids who showed keen interest in horses and hung around stables at weekends and on holidays. Today most are recruited through their schools.
Not so for Andrew Castle who for some time could be found around Lou Luciani’s stables in the hope that he could take up riding when he was old enough. Well, that day has well and truly arrived and Apprentice Riding Master Laurie Millington has been suitable impressed by the lad’s enthusiasm and natural ability. “He’s got that something extra in that horses seem to go well for him,” Millington declared.
They certainly went well for Andrew Castle over the week ended January 16 when he rode seven winners in six days, including two trebles and his first Saturday city winner.
Winning Run: For the record, Castle’s run began at the Geraldton meeting on Sunday, January 10 when he won on Maruse, Shazza Rose and Speedy Jesta over distances ranging from 1100m to 1300m. Then it was on to the Esperance meeting on Friday, January 15 when he piloted Just Sue (1600m), Ears Loppy (1200m) and Stormy Express (1200m) to victory. And finally to Ascot on Saturday, January 16 when he steered Street Value to a surprise win in a 2200m welter. The run has taken Castle to 21 wins, 10 at the provincials, eight in the country and three city wins and has quickly taken him back to a two kilogram claim. It has also earned Castle another $200 encouragement award jointly sponsored by Bio John and WA trainers.
Some impressive training performances came under notice during December-January to be chosen by racing expert Ernie Manning as winners or weekly Hi-Gains awards.
Nor-Wester hits Perth: Applecross trainer Kevin Temple had a great run with the nine-year-old gelding Stratazoa, taking him from a successful run in the North West to a listed race in Perth. Stratazoa is part owned by Temple who took over his training when Phil Grantham called it a day. The horse won seven races, three at Broome and Newman and one at Derby before heading for Perth and winning successive races at Ascot on December 5 and the $100,000 Crawford Stakes on December 19. Stratazoa had previously won in the city between north-west campaigns.
New Spice in Form: Eastern States trainer Brian Mayfield-Smith tried unsuccessfully to get the best out of New Spice before the horse returned to Keysbrook mentor Elva Van Merwyk last year. New Spice had been a star three year old in Perth before losing all form in Melbourne. Back on home territory New Spice regained form to win the ATA Handicap at Ascot on December 26 to take his stake earnings to $350,000 and several days later ran a creditable fourth in the Perth Cup. New Spice was a good buy for his owners who purchased him for $18,000 at a Bob Peters dispersal sale. Three days after winning his Ascot race, one of the part owners Malcolm McDonald died at the age of 88.
Durrant’s Day Out: Star of New Year’s Day racing was Karnup trainer Adam Durrant who had the $400,000 Perth Cup quinella with Lord’s Ransome and Ma Chienne as well as the $100,000 Summer Scorcher quinella with Ma Ma Machine and Pro Art. Lord’s Ransome won the Pinjarra and Bunbury Cups last year before heading east where two trainers were unable to win a race with him. Back in Perth, the galloper ran a first-up fifth in the Railway Stakes before a win in the Cox Plate saw him start favourite in the Perth Cup. Ma Ma Machine is another horse who has proved a real bargain for connections who purchased him for $5000.
Air Force Takes Off: The six-year-old gelding Air Force had been through several well-known stables before being handed over to Bunbury trainer Leon Denehey. The turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable with Air Force winning four of his five runs for Denehey. That run started at Pinjarra on November 22 when he won a maiden at his 15th start. That was followed by another Pinjarra win on December 3, a win at Ascot on December 16, third at Ascot 10 days later and finally another Ascot success on January 9.
Home-Ground Knowledge: Ascot trainer Darren McAuliffe was back on home territory on January 17 to win his second Mungrup Sprint with Spitfire Ace. Five years ago McAuliffe, a third generation Albany trainer, won the $80,000 race with Impressive Stats, a win that encouraged him to head north to Perth. Since then he has built up a handy stable of consistent performers and is one of the State’s new breed of young mentors.