Helicopter called in to locate runaway horse at Kembla Grange

Early present: Blake Spriggs (white cap) and Sir John Hawkwood take out the Christmas Cup at Royal Randwick. Photo: bradleyphotos老域名出售备案老域名 Lost and found: Arigold was located in dense scrubland at Kembla. Photo: Supplied

Bemused racing officials were forced to charter a helicopter to find a horse that got loose before the start of a Kembla Grange race and became lost in dense bushland.

The Jason Coyle-trained Arigold dumped rider Mitchell Bell on the way to the barriers and managed to flee the track. It was eventually located in thick scrub near Mullet Creek, the waterway that runs alongside the course and adjacent to the Princes Highway.

“They needed a helicopter to find the horse and they eventually found it right next to the creek with its saddle still on,” said Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy, who was officiating at the Randwick meeting on Saturday.

Arigold’s scratching added to an already eventful race, which was slated to have just three starters. After Arigold’s withdrawal there were just two runners, Anthony Cummings’ Calm And Serene winning the match race against Chris Waller’s Katinka.

Collett to the fore

Jason Collett’s previous best haul of four winners in a day came at Dargaville in New Zealand, a track where they race only twice a year. But Cradle Me’s withering burst down the outside to win the listed Razor Sharp Handicap was enough to deliver Collett a quartet of winners – of sorts – at Randwick on Saturday.

“I didn’t think she could win as she was struggling to stay in touch with them, but she sprinted really well,” said Collett, who had earlier won on Rule The River, Lady Sniper and shared honours on Shutter Bug.

David Pfieffer’s mare led home a wall of horses, which included Aussies Love Sport finishing a long neck adrift in second and Boss Lane a half-length further back in third.

Many happy returns

David Vandyke’s first day back at work after a short holiday couldn’t have gone better as Sir John Hawkwood made Sydney Cup plans a little firmer with victory in the listed Christmas Cup at Randwick.

“I wasn’t sure where he was at going into today,” Vandyke said. “He had tightened up since his last start and I wasn’t sure if he had tightened up too much. I am still learning about him and I think the way we had him prepared today is the key to his future. I think the fact he turned for home and couldn’t get a run and came right back on the steel gave him the chance to let down.”

The Waratah Thoroughbreds project, which has already passed through the Craig Ritchie and Peter Moody yards, just found enough to down the grinding favourite Jiayuguan and Lucky Lucky Lucky.

Camera can’t split Shutter Bug

Jason Collett thought he had won, Kerrin McEvoy wasn’t sure and the judge? He decided to give it to them both. Keeping with the theme of the enthralling Highway Handicap series, Collett’s Shutter Bug and McEvoy’s Pera Pera fought out a rare dead heat at Randwick.

“I thought I had won,” Collett said. “We had the momentum and when I put the head down I knew we were half a stride out. I still thought I had it anyway, but when the number didn’t come up I thought, ‘oh no, this is not good’. It is not often they have a dead heat in the city.”

Goulburn trainer Danny Williams has been peppering the series since its October inception and had to settle for a shared win for his first success.

“Not a way to win a race, but I’m happy to do that,” he said. “It’s about time we got there. We’ve represented every one of them so far and we’ve had a few placings. It was just nice to win one, just a shame it was that way. But we’ll take it all the same.”

McEvoy, who offered a high five to Collett as they returned to scale, wasn’t as confident Pera Pera got his head down on the line.

“I wasn’t sure,” McEvoy said. “It was a brave run by him and he’s going to run well in one of these races in the near future.”

Clenton feels stewards’ wrath

Chief steward Ray Murrihy gave a stern rebuke to top apprentice Samantha Clenton over her ride on Bayview Emperor, just stopping short of issuing a running and handling charge.

Clenton rattled home from last on Jeremy Sylvester’s well-backed hope to finish sixth in the Highway Handicap, but Murrihy grilled her over a lack of vigour approaching the turn.

“You gave up on that horse and were half hearted around the turn,” Murrihy said. “You’re going through the motions. It seems to me when you get interested in the race, the horse gets interested in the race.”

Clenton argued she steadied the horse and went back to last in the middle stages when it was inclined to lay out, but had concerns with how it was travelling and didn’t predict Bayview Emperor would finish the race the way he did. Sylvester said he had no major problems with the ride and actually had $250 on the horse at $67 to win. The horse was backed from $51 into $14 on track.

Black-type races rule

Anthony Cummings is never one to die wondering with his horses over a trip, but Rule The River will be kept to sprinting trips for the forseeable future in a bid to earn valuable black type. Gosford’s Takeover Target Stakes in January – or even the Canterbury Classic on Boxing Day – loom as suitable options for Gerry Harvey’s mare.

“It’s a nice time of year for her and we’ve got a mare in form and we’ll be tackling black type next start,” said foreman Edward Cummings after Rule The River sped to victory from In A Wink and Karakuchi in the Randwick first.

“She’s just been a horse that has had to deal with the same issues we do growing up. It’s just taken her a bit longer than others. Just because she wasn’t around as a two- and three-year-old doesn’t mean she is any worse for wear. It was just a tactic we decided to employ and she’s reaping the benefits.”

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