Just one banjo turns up

PORT Macquarie prolific racehorse owner and vineyard dabbler Bob Charley was chuffed to see his four-year-old gelding Conroy’s Gap (11-8 to 11-4) grab a win at Taree-Wingham Race Club’s big pre-Christmas TAB meeting before a bumper holiday-mood crowd at Bushland Drive Racecourse on Sunday.

He heads a syndicate called the “Banjo Club” and was the only member of 16 to be trackside to witness a gem of a ride by Cessnock jockey Robert Thompson to land the gelding a length-and-a-half winner in the Hydrahose Handicap over 1270m.

Scone trainer Rodney Northam now prepares the former Sydney winner, which has won two of its past three starts and is destined to tackle more races in the country.

Thompson told Charley that Conroy’s Gap travelled well in the run and found the dead track to its liking.

Charley said the gelding needed things to go its way to perform at its best.

Port gallopers filled the placings, second going to six-year-old gelding Overshadows (13-4), trained by Tas Morton and ridden by Port jockey Peter Graham, with consistent six-year-old gelding Better Not Doubt (7-2), trained by Neil Godbolt and ridden by Port’s Marlon Dolendo, just over a length back.

Plunge Taree mare Lotsa Lobban apparently played up in its stall prior to the race, was inspected, threw apprentice rider Jess Taylor on leaving the mounting yard, and showed no dash to finish last in a disappointing run.

Thompson had to settle for second on two odds-on favourites in Port three-year-old filly Al Nova (7-4 on) behind Coffs Harbour colt Melbourne Billy (13-4) and 5-4 on Watch The Magic behind Cessnock gelding Mighty Field (8-1).

Melbourne Billy was in a trailing position in fifth place for Coffs jockey Nicholas Perrett while Al Nova had a hard run out wide in the Saxby’s Ginger Beer 3YO Country Plate over 1270m.

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