Return trip to Grafton works wonders for Rexx
WHILE his namesake Rex Airlines stopped flights in and out of Grafton last Friday, there was no stopping the four-year-old gelding Rexx delivering a fly-in, fly-out special on Ramornie Handicap Day at Clarence River Jockey Club.
The topweight $4.60 favourite led from start to finish out of barrier six to claim the Winning Edge Presentations 4YO&Up Showcase over 1600m, handing Armidale trainer Ian Cook his first July Carnival success.
"I've been coming for 32 years, but this is I think the first time I've had a starter over the actual carnival," Cook said.
"Never had anything good enough to bring before."
Ridden by Shane Arnold, Rexx led by as much as four lengths at the top of the straight, nodding home a half length ahead of Jeff Englebrecht trained High Court ($5.50, Grant Buckley) with Craig Martin trained Tavion Prince ($17, Brooke Stower) another two lengths back for third.
Rexx ran fifth in the 1400m Class 3 on South Grafton Cup Day on Sunday, and relished the extra distance on the return visit despite the short three-day turnaround.
"We thought he'd back up over the mile, thought it was more suitable for him," Cook said.
Rexx is owned by a syndicate out of Guyra, most of whom came down to Grafton from the ranges on Sunday, but didn't back up to be trackside for the midweek run.
"A group of young guys from Guyra, it's the first time in a horse for most of them," Cook said. "So it was a good result for them.
"We got him as a tried horse from Chris Waller and we've only had him for three runs. He's paid for himself today so the boys would be happy I'd hope."
Cook also has Successor booked to race in the Village Green Hotel Country Magic Association Class 6 Plate on Graftn Cup Day tomorrow. The four-year-old gelding will be ridden by Brooke Stower.
"Just not sure if he needs another run yet or not," Cook said.
"On his day he's a good horse, he's just got to put his mind to it.
"It's a fairly hard race, but if we get a bit of moisture it'll make it easier for him tomorrow. He likes the soft ground."
While Cook said he has waited 32 years to bring a horse - a winning one at that - to the July Carnival, it was unusually subdued reception that met his victory, with jockeys and trainers quickly ushered out of the mounting yard after the race, as sleeting rain greeted the sparse crowd limited to one quarter capacity by COVID-19 restrictions.
"It's not like it used to be, is it," he commented.
"Nowadays they kick you out of the pub if you stand up. In my day they kicked you out if you couldn't stand up."