Commerford and his Hero break their droughts
RACING: With his throat red raw and tears forming at the corner of his eyes, there was nothing but joy as Terry Commerford took his place in front of the winner's stall for the first time in more than a year.
The veteran Grafton trainer had just cheered prized gelding Hashtag Hero the whole way down the straight to its maiden victory.
It had been a long road for the six-year-old gelding who had finished second in five of his nine starts since joining the Commerford yard in February.
"He earned a lot of prize money running second, I was never sorry about that, it's a heck of a lot better than running fifth," Commerford said after the win.
"He paid for himself with those runs, and now this is just a bonus. It is terrific to see him win like that, it is a bit of a release from the pressure (I put on myself)."
Hashtag Hero was ridden "terrifically" according to the trainer, with jockey Chris Whitely finding a rails run from the inside gate before surfing through a late gap on the home straight.
Whitely rolled through the gears as the gelding powered away to win by a length from Michael Trihey-trained Moringa's Heime with Magic Scent a further half-length third.
"Chris carried out exactly what we wanted to do and got him to the front at the right time, it was a terrific ride," the 72-year-old wily trainer said.
"Chris has become my most winningest jockey, we have had a good connection for about 20 years now. It was an A-grade ride out there."
Commerford had put the visors on for this run which he said could have contributed to the galloper's improvement.
"I also found a couple of little problems with him after the last race. He was a bit muscle sore over the bum and had his teeth adjusted," he said.
"We got a couple of other little things sorted and I thought that would put about three or four lengths back on him.
"I think the visors also got him focussed on the task, and I also need to give a lot of credit to Sam McGuren who does his work every day. She has put a lot into this horse and it has shown with this win."
Local Dwayne Schmidt also picked up a winner when True Pride kicked clear to win by three lengths in the Restaurant 2460 @ The GDSC F&M Class 1 Handicap (1115m).