Moranbah raider Bevan Johnson came and stole champion Bundaberg trainer Darryl Gardiner’s thunder early on at Saturday’s bumper six-race TAB Meeting Rum City Foods Race Day at Thabeban Park.
He took out the opening event with Han Dynasty, then ended Darryl’s clean sweep of Open class events at the past five local meetings by upstaging the maestro’s three representatives in the premier event and claiming the quinella in the Simplot Handicap with veterans American Genius and Fab’s Cowboy.
Both were ridden by apprentice Olivia Kendal in her first venture to Bundaberg.
Darryl finished the meeting on a high note, taking out the last two races on the program with Blonde’s Day Out in the Pacific West Benchmark 60 Handicap, and Homecall in the Safries Benchmark 50 Handicap, both ridden by another rising star apprentice Montana Philpot.
On a day of doubles and a clean sweep by female jockeys, senior rider Gemma Steele also tasted dual success aboard Dukatti for Eidsvold trainer Bob Murray in the New Age Caravans Bundaberg Benchmark 45 Handicap and Meglio for highly successful Wondai owner/trainer Kym Afford in the Rum City Foods QTIS Maiden Plate.
Superbly bred three-year-old Han Dynasty, which was having his first outing on the track, was sent out favourite, paying $1.80.
He recorded his fourth victory in nine starts, leading throughout over the 850m course and crossing the line 4.3 lengths in advance of Rockhampton galloper Bittergreymagic.
The also regally bred American Genius, which is by All American out of a Rock of Gibraltar mare Gibraltar Moon was also on track debut, and was the second-favourite at $3.60 behind one of Darryl’s trio Crisscross ($3.30).
American Genius, which ran third on debut in the Black-type Maribyrnong Trial at Flemington in October 2016 when trained by the iconic David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig and had won 11 races from Country Victoria to Darwin, took his record to 12 wins and 19 placings from 64 starts for $220,340 in prizemoney.
Ten-year-old ironhorse Fab’s Cowboy finished strongly to take second, beaten 1.3 lengths behind his three years younger stablemate, but 3.1 lengths clear of Darryl’s Bundaberg Cup winner Wrecking Ball, which suffered just his second defeat in seven runs at the Park, and taking his amazing record to 45 wins, 22 seconds and seven thirds from 119 starts throughout Queensland and lifting his stake earnings to $354,600.
Olivia, 24, who is apprenticed to Gatton trainer Peter Moncrieff, only made her race riding debut on 30 May last year, and she has now notched 24 victories.
Seven of those for Bevan at an impressive winning percentage of 23%, and she also notched a double on Han Dynasty and American Genius at Mt Isa on 12 August.
Olivia and Bevan were chasing a treble with favourite Royal Sheen ($2.25) in the Benchmark 60, while Kym was vying for a race-to-race double with Gossiaux, which was hailed as the winner until caught in the very last bound by Blonde’s Day Out ($3.90), with Royal Sheen a distant third, a further 9.8 lengths adrift.
Blonde’s Day Out was purchased by Monto grazier Mark Hutton from Victoria to replace his popular old-timer Al’s Briefs, which Darryl also trained and won 19 racings in a long and distinguished career until being retired after making a winning swansong on Melbourne Cup Day 2020.
The six-year-old mare had won at her Queensland debut at Thangool on 16th January last year, but she was making her Bundaberg debut and resuming from a five-month spell after posting five seconds, a third and three fours from her subsequent 10 outings, mostly in Rockhampton.
By contrast, white-hot favourite Homecall ($1.70) made every post a winner over the tough 1380m course, and he saluted the judge 4.5 lengths in front of outsider Toy Whitty ($10) which picked up his third straight runners-up payday.
Homecall made it three wins from his past four assignments, four wins all together since Darryl’s wife Joanne purchased him as a maiden from Victoria in August 2020, and three wins and two placings in six starts on his home track.
Bundaberg has become a happing hunting ground for 22-year-old Montana, whose parents were both former top jockeys in Queensland, Gus and the late Donna, who was tragically killed in a trackwork accident in Victoria in 2017.
Montana rode her first race winner here, then made it a double later in the afternoon, at the Catholic Schools Race Day in March last year, and was also victorious aboard Homecall at her only return to the city at the December meeting.
Dukatti ($3.40) also made a one-act affair of his event, running out a 6.5-length victor, stretching his Bundaberg statistics to three wins, a second and a fourth from five runs here for the affable Bob, whose ultra-popular iconic father, long-time breeder, and highly successful former trainer Jack is one of the horse’s part-owners in a family syndicate.
Meglio ($4.20), a three-year-old son of star sire Better Than Ready, was having his first start since being purchased by 2020 Bundaberg Cup winning trainer Kym after he had failed dismally at his first three starts at Ipswich, Kilcoy, and Caloundra.
Other stories: BIMA volleyball tournament a first for the region