Lady Guevara shows a real liking for heavy tracks
THE turf at Clarence River Jockey Club was as thick as the Cuban jungle yesterday but Lady Guevara wasn't complaining.
The five-year-old mare thrived on the wet track to score by one-and-a-half lengths in the Clocktower Hotel Benchmark 70 Handicap over 1106 metres.
The heavy eight rating sent trainers ducking for cover in every direction, with a total of 45 scratchings on the seven-race card.
But Beaudesert's Laurie Richardson had no hesitation to continue the journey south from Queensland having banked two fourths in Ballina the previous day.
"Her wet weather record is very good and she's never run worse than fourth here," Richardson said.
"She still prefers to be on top of the ground but this type of track doesn't worry her."
Not wrong. Apprentice jockey Brooke Ainsworth brought Lady Guevara ($3.50) to the front at the turn and never looked back to score a third win from five starts at Grafton and second from four in the wet.
Kindly weighted with 54kg, Ainsworth's 3kg claim was a further blessing as the likes of Padre Pio ($2kg, 60.5kg) struggled badly in the conditions.
"She was weighted to win that," Richardson said.
"There's a rule with wet tracks - never back the topweight."
Trainers Bob Milligan (Al's Gold, 57kg) and Stephen Lee (River Spirit, 56kg) may have had similar thoughts in scratching the next two heavyweights as just six horses went to the barriers for the start.
Richardson hinted Ainsworth may have raised a few eyebrows when she gave the mare a wide berth, but not his.
"I thought a few would be critical of her when she came four or five wide, but that was the plan," Richardson said.
"I've won some races here at Grafton and know how it races in the wet. I think a lot of winners will come from out there today, put it that way."
Richardson, who also had King Of The Bay ($8.50) unplaced in the fifth, praised how the track held up for the last meeting at Grafton for the year after the recent wet weather.
Matthew McCuren came unstuck on Cheys Mystic ($11, David Campbell) in the three-year-old maiden won by Sorelle ($4.40). There were no reports of major injury.