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Heat on hoops

Jockey Scott Thurlow (light pink and stars silks) races Set Alight to victory in race 3 three at Grafton yesterday, Robber Pty Ltd Hcp, 1409 metres.
Jockey Scott Thurlow (light pink and stars silks) races Set Alight to victory in race 3 three at Grafton yesterday, Robber Pty Ltd Hcp, 1409 metres. Debrah Novak
DESPITE hot conditions and stifling humidity, stewards at Grafton yesterday applied the heat to Gold Coast rider Chris Whiteley and star apprentice Adam Hyeronimus.


The pair were hauled in to answer questions after what stewards eventually deemed ‘poorly judged rides’ in the Robbor Pty Ltd Open Hcp (1409m).


Whiteley was aboard the Stephen Lee-trained Surety and Hyeronimus partnered Our Gangstar for his master, John Shelton.


Onlookers were amazed and punters hot under the collar when the riders played cut throat tactics on both noted front runners, carving out the first 800m in 47.4sec – “about nine lengths faster than expected,” Northern Rivers’ experienced chief steward Bill Fanning suggested.


During lengthy questioning Whiteley conceded “I went too quick,” after being confronted with race footage and the sectional times. Surety compounded to finish eighth of nine.


Amazingly Our Gangstar held on to finish third to the Gordon Yorke-trained former French stallion, Set Alight (Scott Thurlow), headed towards the Healey Stakes in Brisbane, and Seraroyale (Raymond Spokes).


Hyeronimus, 18, was counselled by jockey advocate Malcolm Fitzgerald and was asked searching questions by Fanning in the presence of Shelton.


“Why didn’t you think to take a sit earlier than the 1000 metres,” Fanning asked.


“I was holding him as much as I could, I didn’t want to rip his head off pulling him back,” Hyeronimus replied.


Stewards warned both riders but took no further action, however, Hyeronimus was fined $200 for returning to scale 1.2kg overweight on Our Gangstar (54kg), last start winner of the Deepwater Cup.


Shelton told stewards he mentioned to Hyeronimus the gelding was supposed to be sold on race morning and was unlikely to start.


“When the money didn’t arrive we ran him and it might have caught Adam unawares and he took things a bit easier. He’s never had a problem with weight before,” Shelton said.


Hyeronimus admitted weighing out correctly then consuming “a bit of a drink” and subsequently using a lighter saddle.


Hyeronimus scored late in the day aboard the Shelton-trained Totally Grateful and Whiteley aboard the Lee-trained Ephraim Warrior.


Peter Graham rode well-judged races to win aboard the Shelton-trained Ceequal Star for Grafton owners Ron and Helen Campbell and You Raise Me Up for Port Macquarie-based George Woodward.