Top Crown fights past Admiral Nediym to win the Ulmarra Chip-in Cup at Grafton on Saturday.
Top Crown fights past Admiral Nediym to win the Ulmarra Chip-in Cup at Grafton on Saturday. Adam Hourigan

Novice trainer celebrates huge win

WHAT is it like saddling up your first runner as a racehorse trainer and coming up trumps a winner?

He mightn’t drive a Toyota but for 28-year-old tyro Benjamin Smith ‘Oh what a feeling’.

Evergreen seven-year-old gelding Top Crown provided Smith with a dream start to his training career when lasting to defeat Admiral Nediym and Hotshot Hayil in the Commercial Hotel Ulmarra & Patrons ‘Chip-In’ Cup (1000m).

“Unbelievable, enormous, it’s hard to really describe the feeling,” the elated Port Macquarie-based Smith said. “It’s more of a relief to get the monkey off my back straight away.

“I was very nervous before the race.

“I thought Top Crown was good enough but your never sure in this game.”

Licensed in mid January, Smith has a team of five horses in work.

One of the non-carnival best crowds seen at Grafton turned out on a sweltering day to enjoy the racing and blues, brews and BBQ promotion.

For Smith, the road to success has been long.

Raised in Scone, Smith worked for legendary Hall Of Fame trainer Bart Cummings for 12 months after leaving school.

He then spent time with Greg Bennett who broke in three-time Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva, before accepting a position with Greg Eurell in Melbourne.

“I didn’t really like Melbourne and after speaking with Peter Snowden went and worked for Crown Lodge in Sydney,” Smith recalled.

A stint at Nathan Tinkler’s massive Patinack Farm operation followed before branching out in his own right.

It was a special family day for Smith and his grandparents, Graham and Clare, who race Top Crown, formerly trained by Stephen Gleeson.

It was a classy ride by now Tamworth-based Glenn Lynch aboard Top Crown.

Lynch, who had a long association with Ron Maund’s champion mare Gold Edition, ended the day with a winning treble, locally trained pair Follow Orders (Jack Gallagher) and Sweet Moments (Paul Richardson) also winning.

Apprentice Josh Jones, now with John Shelton after making a comeback to riding in late December, booted home the first three winners - Boldera and Darshan Joh for his master and Bromilayos for Grafton trainer Felicity Firth.

“A 10 out of 10 ride,” part-owner Phil Waghorn said of the 18-year-old’s winning navigation aboard three-year-old filly Boldera.

Boldera, raced on lease, is a half sister to Shelton’s former open class galloper Sir Colo.

“Like Sir Colo as she gets older she’s only going to get better,” Shelton said. “Josh gave her a perfect run.”

Firth described Bromilayos as a “tart.

“She kicks, bites, wants to stomp on people but she can gallop,” Firth added. “She deserves to breakthrough. She‘s had no luck.”

Darshan Joh, selected by Shelton and former Royal Sydney teaching golf professional Vic Bennetts, is raced by a syndicate that includes Clarence River Jockey Club and Coffs Harbour Racing Club presidents, Bob Pavitt and Alan Johnson.

Astute Coffs Harbour trainer Brett Dodson had bookmakers digging deep to pay after landing a plunge with Stormy Youth (Wayne Wheatley).

The gelding was backed from $11 into $4.60 before leading throughout to win the Farrell McCrohon Stock & Station/Lando’s Transport Handicap (1200m).

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