Finishing on a high
By TONY WHITE
LOCAL trainer Phil McLeod and wise-cracking jockey Allan Robinson's bountiful July Racing Carnival ended on a high at Grafton yesterday with a winning treble and double respectively.
Included in the duo's booty was combining to win the feature race, the $25,000 Maclean Bowling Club Maclean Cup (1400m) with highly promising three-year-old, Forestreno.
Robinson tumbled heavily from Moving North in the previous race, but bravely climbed aboard the gelding despite abrasions to his forehead, a sore ankle, chest and elbow.
McLeod, who moved from Kembla Grange to Grafton, via Warwick Farm and Scone seven years ago, trained a winning treble: Quad Queen (Robinson), Forestreno (Robinson) and Meteorite (Darron Coleman).
Over the five TAB days of this year's highly successful carnival, McLeod led in seven winners.
Newcastle-based Robinson rode a remarkable 10 winners during the carnival, including four on Ramornie Day and winning yesterday aboard Quad Queen and Forestreno.
And in what was a fitting end to a great carnival for locals, trainer John Shelton and jockey Stephen Traecey also combined for a winning double with Like A River and Star Of Tiarne.
McLeod has big plans for Forestreno and former 'boofhead', the staying gelding Meteorite.
Forestreno is owned by McLeod's wife Vicki, Lucky Anagnostou, one of McLeod's longest clients and Camden-based Maurice Ward, who has been McLeod's accountant for 20 years.
"Phil always said he'd get me into a horse one day, but he waited until the right one came along," Ward said after Forestreno's strong win over Shagny Lover and Lambeth Walk in the Maclean Cup.
"He rang one day and said 'I've got a good one Maurice.'
"And we sure have."
McLeod said the gelding by Shinko Forest out of the former McLeod-trained mare Santreno Lass bred by the trainer, was now likely to head to Sydney.
Forestreno won his first race, a maiden, on South Grafton Cup Day last year and the three-year-old has now recorded six wins from 13 starts, his past three in succession.
"He's a nice horse, but still learning," McLeod said. "I was going to run him in the Guineas (1600m), but after his past two wins he was too brilliant for the mile yet.
"I got worried when he led early, but Robbo was able to bring him back to him. It was a good effort especially jumping in class like he did."
McLeod thanked his clients, track riders and staff for his great success over the carnival.
"Without them you don't have a stable," he said.
Meteorite, who swamped his rivals to win the final event by 3-1/2 lengths, will now target the $70,000 Coffs Harbour Cup (2300m) on August 4.
"He's still wayward, but I really believe he'll be a cups horse later on," McLeod said.
Next year's Grafton Cup is already on the planning agenda.
McLeod's patience with both horses is starting to pay handsome dividends.
While Robinson had a lucky escape from serious injury, Matthew Paget was not so lucky, getting tossed over the head of his mount, the John Shelton-trained Hyaline in the opening event.
Paget rolled like a rag doll under Hyaline's feet and appeared to be struck by other following horses.
He was taken to Grafton Hospital complaining of pain in his hip and pelvis area.
Robinson admitted he was lucky to not suffer worse injury, but his sense of humour was still razor sharp.
"The bloody horse fell near the rail after getting decked. I was just hoping to get out of it (the fall)," he said.
"When I sat up and got my breath back the ambulance bloke kept saying 'stay down, stay down,'
"I said 'hey, if that bloke (the jockey he blamed) comes down I'm going to chase after him'."
Stewards have adjourned inquires into both falls.