WAUCHOPE Jockey Club president Steve Smith and his family finally got their wish of joining the ranks of owners who have the time-honoured Woop Woop Cup on their mantelpiece in a hometown win before a good crowd Boxing Day.
Sharing in the $9000 Steve Cook Memorial Cup victory were Port Macquarie trainer Colt Prosser, who had the five-year-old mare Steel Allure “on song”, and former “hometown boy”, Port Macquarie jockey Peter Graham.
Ironically, Smith said before the race he would be presenting the Cup to himself, having had Steel Allure (15-4) and Whitewood (fifth) in the race, both being trained by Prosser, who enjoyed a winning double.
But it has been a long road to get Steel Allure ready for the 1800m race as she had a wind operation after three starts and then had to be spelled several times to recuperate properly. The mare is out of Sight, bought for $10,000, which is also the dam of one of NSW’s best country gallopers, Precise Timing, which won about a $1m for Taree trainer Ross Stitt.
Smith liked Precise Timing when it was a two-year-old after he raced Gasconnde with success in Sydney and when Sight came up for sale he got the winning bid over Stitt.
The dam became the basis for the Smith family’s Rockabee Stud but she passed away last year when 20 and in foal to Lonhro, a champion racehorse and now at stud. “I wanted to win this race for Colt as he has done a tremendous job with my horses,” Smith said as tears welled in his eyes.
Prosser said he was reasonably confident of success but with rain chopping up the track he thought Whitewood would be suited. It could have been a fairytale ending because the runner-up was nine-year-old gelding Wannabe (4-1), bred by the late Cook, who the race is named after.
He gave the gelding to his loyal Wauchope trainer Bob Graham, strapper Robyn Pritchard and Cook’s family and friends.
Steel Allure scored by 1.5 lengths with a head to Port gelding Belaction (7-4), trained by Tas Morton, which was given no peace in front and was gallant in defeat. Smith’s wife, Helen, graciously accepted the gold cup, remembering when Steel Allure foaled.
Just as he did at last year’s cup, Prosser again had five-year-old mare Happy Rebel (9-4) tuned up to win again in the Wauchope Retravision Benchmark 45 Handicap over 1000m.
Happy Rebel in winning last year was befriended by stable mate Be Brief as a calming influence and although the mare missed the start slightly on Wednesday she was too strong for Gosford mare Zamalek Star (5-1) and Gladstone gelding Looselipssinkships (6-4).
Jockey Graham on A Rare Old Time (7-4 on) gave Port trainer John Prague the first of two wins at the meeting in the Wauchope Produce Maiden Plate over 1650m.
It was a change of luck for Port head syndicate owner Nick Fazzolari and friends who have waited until the four-year-old mare’s 23rd start to get the win, albeit impressive by just over three lengths.
“It has been running a few good races but just didn’t want to win one until today,” Sprague, who has had three winners at the past two local meetings, said. Six-year-old gelding Etrain (5-1), owned by a syndicate headed by Brett Adkins, hadn’t raced since September 1.