Starlactic celebrates Grafton return with a win
SOMETIMES you can't help but laugh at viewpoints expounded by racetrack pessimists.
Prior to the opening event at Grafton on Saturday, a train of thought was touted local horses wouldn't win a race due to training restrictions caused by the 'big wet'.
Funny, you'd have to ask were Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie or Taree any better?
Well, talk about egg on your face - Grafton-trained gallopers dominated the program on a rain-sodden surface, winning five of eight races.
Throw in star apprentice Adam Hyeronimus with a winning treble, and locals snared 80 per cent of wins.
The undoubted highlight was fallen hero Starlactic's long-awaited return to the winners' list in the Commercial Hotel Ulmarra & Patrons Chip-In Cup (1100m).
Lumping a massive 62kg and racing wide throughout, comeback jockey and the gelding's regular trackwork rider, 33-year-old Mick Ahearn, somehow managed to coax the seven-year-old to a commanding victory.
A large band of Ulmarra locals cheered; the owners were delirious; Ahearn chuffed, and; trainer Wayne Lawson emotional and almost lost for words.
“I could cry, unbelievable,” Lawson said.
“What a journey. This is a huge relief. I'm just happy for the owners, happy for Mick.”
Starlactic, the former 2006 Ramornie favourite beset with injuries and lack of form, had tested Lawson's patience and morale. It was the gelding's first win since August, 2006.
“Magical Mick,” one of the owners shouted to Ahearn.
Ahearn, whose weight ballooned to 69kgs before getting serious about a comeback following two years in jockey hiatus, opined Starlactic wasn't a 'kid's horse'.
“Because of the big weights he gets Wayne has used apprentices, but I don't think he's a kid's horse,” Ahearn said.
“I just rode him like I work him.
“It definitely helps knowing the horse.
“He always travelled. Everything's been in his head.”
As for Ahearn's future, don't expect miracles.
“It's (weight) a constant battle. I'm not going to kill myself,” he said.
“If there are horses with big weights, I'll jump on.”
The stable celebrated a double when Irir (Hyeronimus) made it three wins from its past four starts taking the Riverview Service Station/O Hindmarsh Builder Rating 62 Hcp.
Hyeronimus, 18, leading the NSW country apprentice premiership, also scored aboard the Pat Bramich-owned Legal Star, trained by his master, John Shelton, and Magenta Shores, prepared by Peter Sinclair.
Legal Star is out of Kyamba Star, the mare Shelton won 10 races with. They both have the same scabby mane.
Sinclair has coaxed three wins in five starts since getting the Marwina mare from Newcastle.
“A change of environment, the mighty Clarence and plenty of TLC,” he suggested.
The affable Mike Dougherty waxed lyrical when 'bad legged, bad footed' problem child Cee Jay Clang (Stephen Traecey) led throughout in the RB'S Settlers Antiques Ulmarra/Lando's Transport Maiden (1711m).
“He's been a labour of love,” Dougherty said.
“He's had a heap of problems.
“I always hoped we could win one, but I thought it would be a non-TABer. We'll take what God gives us.”