Field outsider Crisscross capped off a successful outing for trainer Darryl Gardiner, taking out the Express Print and Mail Open Handicap at the Ulton Race Day at Thabeban Park on Saturday.
Darryl was fresh from receiving the Bundaberg Trainers’ Premiership Trophy for the eighth time earlier in the day, but it came as a surprise that the major win wasn’t secured by his Bundaberg Gold Cup winner and hot favourite for the event Wrecking Ball.
Wrecking Ball ($1.40) had won each of his previous three starts on the track, but he was the first horse beaten and he trailed the field home a distant last, as Crisscross ($5) led throughout.
Perfectly rated by apprentice Shannyn Stephan, he just held on to defeat the fast-finishing Mahratta ($2.80) with Lucky Machu close up in third position.
It was a return to form for Crisscross, which finished well back at Gympie and Gladstone either side of a third placing at Wondai at his previous three outings.
Darryl also owns both horses, and aside from those two recent failures, Crisscross’s record has been excellent since he purchased him from Country Victoria early last year after having been unplaced at his first three starts.
The impeccably bred five-year-old by former Australasian Champion Sprinter Testa Rossa, which won six Group 1 races, out of Joffa Rose and whose sire Durbridge also won six Group 1 races, has now had 12 starts for him for four wins, three seconds and three thirds, with all of those results on his home track.
Crisscross provided the second leg of a double for last year’s Bundaberg Cup winning jockey Shannyn, after she had also been successful aboard Stryking Maid for Wondai owner/trainer Kym Afford in the feature event, the Ulton Cup Maiden Plate, with Kym continuing his run of success in the Rum City over the past year.
Five-year-old mare Stryking Maid had been runner-up at Wondai and Gladstone at her previous two runs since being purchased by Kym from Eidsvold trainer Bob Murray, for whom she had failed at each of her seven starts for him.
Meanwhile, Hard Enough ($4.80) made it five wins in a row at his second start on the track for his Roma trainer/jockey Cheryl Rogers in the Scotpac Benchmark 60 Handicap, outgunning Darryl Gardiner’s odds-on favourite Dolci ($1.80).
Another astute local trainer Gary Clem also had high hopes for Bacio Vincente in the PSC Insurance Brokers Class B handicap, but he could manage only third behind promising Gympie three-year-old colt Dare to Share, from the stables of Cherie Vick and ridden by Kelly Gates.
Having his first start for Cherie and just his eighth race start, which have now yielded two wins, after taking out his Maiden at Ipswich three runs back in July, and three seconds.
By the United States bred Dream Ahead, which was a Group 1 winner, out of Show a Heart mare Dual Chamber, which was a Listed Race winner of $390,500 prizemoney, Dare to Share looks capable of going on to much bigger and better things.
After female jockeys had won the first four events, Rockhampton’s Chris McIver flew the flag for the men, piloting bonny seven-year-old Craiglea Cetina to a narrow but gutsy victory in the Morgans QTIS Benchmark Handicap, edging out fellow joint-topweight Credenza, with both humping a hefty 62kg over the tough 1600m course.
Craiglea Cetina, which was bred by the iconic Stan Johnston at his Craiglea Stud at Kenilworth and is owned by him and his family, has raced throughout Queensland and once in Ballina in a career spanning 83 starts over five years, for 10 wins, 13 seconds and 10 thirds so far.
After receiving the Jockeys Premiership Trophy to start the day, apprentice Rebecca Wilson went into the program looking to continue her success with a full book of five mounts, including on Wrecking Ball, but it was not her day, with the best she could manage being runners-up aboard Dolci and True Tally, behind Dare to Share.
Bundaberg Regional Council Sport and Recreation portfolio spokesperson Cr Vince Habermann presented the Warren Stradling Memorial Trophy, which is awarded annually for the Most Outstanding Contribution to Bundaberg Race Club, in honour of his best friend Apprentice Jockey who was tragically killed in a trackwork accident on the track in August 1977, to long-time tireless club secretary Adam Nasso.
Trainer Laura Cronan received the award for Horse of the Year for her former star Gambit, which completed a great season by winning at his last start for her on 24th July, before being taken over by his new owner Barry Phillips in Kingaroy.