Winner sees Firth’s luck change for the better
LUCK finally went the way of local trainer Felicity Firth when improving stayer Albizia strolled home to win the Winning Edge Presentations Benchmark 54 Hcp (2220m) at Grafton yesterday.
Two weeks back Firth, who lives at nearby Tucabia, was floating in three horses to the Grafton track when disaster struck.
In foggy weather at 3.30am, she encountered three cows in her path.
"I missed two of them but got the third one," Firth said. "Fortunately the horses were okay but the car was a write off. The cow is no longer with us."
It was a scary experience for Firth.
Yesterday however, she was all smiles after her five-year-old gelding relished the conditions to romp home by 3 1/4 lengths with Gold Coast rider Chris Whiteley in the saddle.
Starting at $5.50, Albizia recorded his fourth career win beating early leader Life Patrol ($5) and Tiger Bassie ($11).
Whiteley put the gelding to sleep in the early stages before making ground on the rails and angling clear soon after straightening when Albizia lengthened stride noticeably to record an easy win.
Albizia, purchased as a tried horse from Victoria, is raced by Firth's sister Dianna Ball, Eddie and Noelene Smith and Tony McKenna, who works in the mines in West Australia.
"His runs this time in have all been good bar one," Firth said.
"He's come up really well this time.
"He's such a big horse, he needs a big track to do his best.
"Chris rode him perfectly.
"I thought he could win if he ran out the 2220m."
Meanwhile, good judges have Grafton July Carnival written all over the John Shelton-trained Arabian King.
The lightly raced three-year-old ($2.60) blitzed his rivals by 4 1/4 lengths in winning the Coca-Cola Maiden (1015m).
Owned and bred by Pat Bramich, Arabian King, by Natural Destiny out of Kyamba Star, continued the great strike rate by the broodmare, who won 10 races for Shelton.
Bramich bought the mare after she retired from Brian Paine of Riverdale fame.
"I'm pretty sure every one of her (Kyamba Star) foals has won," Shelton said. "This fella might be the best of them.
"He goes good, a nice horse. I've always had an opinion of him.
"He was a bit small early on but we tipped him out and he's come back bigger and stronger.
"He's a smart little horse. I think the best is still ahead of him."
Arabian King's royal blue colours were designed specifically in honour of jockey Nathan Berry whose funeral was conducted in Sydney yesterday.
The same colours were in the winners' circle again when the Cathy Chapman-trained Diamond Eagle ($3.20) won the Tursa Employment and Training Maiden (1420m).
Diamond Eagle is owned by Central Coast-based Col Keane, who races multiple horses in Australia, New Zealand and Macau.
Clarence River Jockey Club CEO Michael Beattie told the story of how Chapman got the promising three-year-old, who initially trialled in Queensland.
"Cathy bought a horse named Hurricane Eagle from Col three years back then I bought a horse from Col named Lisboa Eagle which we won a race with," Beattie said.
"When Col decided Diamond Eagle needed a sea change, Cathy got the job."