After not recording a winner at the previous two meetings at Thabeban Park this year for the first time in memory, perennial Bundaberg Trainers Premiership winner Darryl Gardiner wrapped up another title at the last local meeting of the 2020/21 season, taking out a double at the Rum City Foods Show Holiday Races on Thursday.
Darryl was victorious with outsider Wrecking Ball, which returned to form in the Pacific West/Masterfoods Benchmark 60 Handicap, and favourite Mountain Courage in the Simplot Australia Open Handicap, both ridden by talented apprentice Rebecca Wilson, who in the process, also clinched the Bundaberg Jockeys’ Premiership.
The regally bred Wrecking Ball, which is by More Than Ready and is a great-great-grandson of former Group 1 winning champion mare for the late great TJ Smith, Denise’s Joy, won his only previous start on the track on 5th September last year but had failed dismally at his only three subsequent starts at Monto and Thangool (twice), but he held off fast finishing 2020 Bundaberg Cup winner Elusive Element.
Mountain Courage, which is owned by a syndicate of 10 excited prominent local business and/or sporting identities, was having his first start in Bundaberg, but he too led throughout before holding off fast finishing veteran Toowoomba raider Hard Stride, a winner of $775,015 in prizemoney, which flew him despite his impost of 67.5kg.
Mountain Courage has now had six starts for them for three wins, a second and a fourth, losing his rider in the other race, with his previous two wins being at Gympie.
Part-owner Adam Rayner, who is in remission after being diagnosed with cancer last year and undergoing months of treatment and who was in good spirits, said they will continue to race him at Country meetings, and he looms as a great local hope for Bundaberg’s biggest annual sprint race, the Lightning Handicap at the next meeting on the track on 24th July.
Darryl was also represented in the race by his out-of-sorts champion Ten Taubada’s, which ran his best race in four starts since a spell, battling on for third.
Bundaberg trainer Laura Cronan had two runners on the day, Gambit, which finished a gallant third behind Wrecking Ball at his first start since February, and maiden Call Me Bel, which was a rank outsider in the Benchmark 45 Handicap, paying $18, but made a bold bid to lead all the way, only to be pipped on the post by the heavily backed Jojo Go ($4) which humped 63kg under jockey Paul Hamblin for Peachester trainer Brendan Butts.
Toowoomba Team Geran of co-trainers Corey and Kylie and jockey Gary combined to take out the opening event on the program, the Rum City Foods QTIS Maiden Plate with Court Rocking, while favourite Oyashio, with apprentice Cody Collis in the saddle, got the money for Rockhampton mentor Chris Attard in the Higgins Coatings Class 1 Handicap.
Four of the “cavalry” will return for Wests Panthers as they attempt to bounce back from last week’s drubbing by Wallaroos and shore up top spot on the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership ladder when they take on last placed Waves Tigers in the battle of the Big Cats in round 8 action at Salter Oval this Sunday at 3pm.
Earlier on the program at 1.30pm, the stakes are just as high between joint-fourth placed reigning champions Past Brothers and Wallaroos, while tomorrow, it will be a clash of the Birds with Hervey Bay Seagulls desperate to end a three-game losing streak when they host Easts Magpies at Stafford Park at 5pm.
In the Northern Districts, this Sunday’s round is at Tegege, with hosts Avondale Tigers needing to improve when they bear their claws against Gin Gin Hawks at 2.45pm, after the South Kolan Sharks juggernaut looks set to roll on against the hapless Miriam Vale Magpies at 1pm.
In the Women’s League Tag, it should be a battle royale at noon between the premiers Tigers and the in-form Hawks.
After being blown away by joint-leaders Across The Waves (ATW) 4-0 last week, United Park Eagles (UPE), who slipped to third on the Wide Bay Premier League Men’s ladder, face another test when they take on the other co-leaders Fraser Flames at Martens Oval at 6pm tomorrow.
In other matches on adjacent fields at the same time, the sky could be the limit for ATW against Diggers, even though the Devils can hopefully build on their drought-breaking win over Sunbury Blues last week and be more competitive, and Bingera and Brothers-Aston Villa will both be hell-bent on breaking their losing streaks when they square off.
The other round matches are both Fraser Coast derbies, with KSS Jets to do battle with the Blues, and Doon Villa and Granville to go head-to-head.
In the Premier League Women’s, Bingera and UPE will combat at Martens Oval at 6pm tonight, with the other two matches also being all-Fraser Coat affairs, with ATW having the bye.
There is just one match of the round in the Wide Bay Marquis Macadamias Seniors Premiership with 2019 premiers and 2020 beaten grand finalists Bay Power certain to be still smarting from last week’s defeat at the hands of premiers Across The Waves Eagles when they host the beleaguered Brothers Bulldogs at Keith Dunne Oval at 2.30pm tomorrow.
They still boast a percentage of 138.17 to the win-less Dogs’ 18.48, and after posting a 22.14 (146) to 4.3 (27) demolition when they last dueled on 17th April, they are certain to again show no mercy.
Raiders/Rovers have unfortunately had to forfeit their Bundaberg matches to Arrows/Athletics in five divisions this weekend, including in Division 1 Men, which means their team has missed the chance to shoot for a rare three straight wins for their premier team.
Raiders will however take on Arrows in Division 1 Women’s at 5.50pm tomorrow.
Arch-rivals All Blacks and Waves Cities will oppose one another in all divisions, with in Division 1, their Women to take to the field at 3.10pm, and their Men at 4.30pm, when the Blacks will be on a mission after going down to Raiders in a boil-over last week.
All conquering premiers Waves Gold will take on Natives Magpies in the Bundaberg Warren Family Homes Division 1 Premiership at the Superpark at 6.30pm tomorrow.
Earlier, at 5pm, Brothers Hurricanes, who were overpowered by Waves Gold last week, may find it easier against Waves Blue, while Fusion Solomons will bib up against Alloway Blue.
Three trainers shared the honours at this week’s Bundaberg meeting with local Lindsay McCarthy, Darren Taylor, of Bouldercombe, and Jeff Crawford, who hails from Buccan, each picking up doubles.
Lindsay was successful with Signify, which continued his improvement in the Maiden, after placing fifth, fourth, third and second respectively at his first four starts, and Black Rocker, which made it three wins and two seconds from six starts at Thabeban Park in the Mixed 4th/5th Grade.
Darren got the money with Dark Angel on track debut in the Novice Non-Penalty, and locally owned Loose Wire in the Mixed 3rd/4th Grade, while Jeff saluted the judge with Ringbark Cutie, and Kiss and Cut at her first Bundaberg appearance, both in 5th Grades.
Biggenden owner/trainer Ron Hawkshaw took out the rich $3,500 prize for the feature event, the Queensland Bred 5th Grade Final, with the ultra-consistent Zuleika, which took his record to 9 wins, 11 seconds and 10 thirds from 44 starts.
One other District trainer was also among the winners on the day, Stephen Bland, with rank outsider Cambla Doll ($19), which completed two victories in a row in the Best 8.