Wauchope-based hobby trainer Michael O’Neill and his tough nine year old stayer Xerxes Dream left punters in the gloom when the $61 outsider won the Hire Port Benchmark 70 (2020m) run in torrential rain at Port Macquarie on Monday.
It was virtually impossible to see the field for most of the race but Xerxes Dream, ridden by Belinda Hodder, emerged from the downpour near the line to win by a neck from Kingston Time.
The race was run in atrocious conditions with stewards holding back the final two races until the weather started to clear.
Despite being virtually ignored by punters O’Neill said he was not surprised with the win.
“He is fit and horses like that can handle those sort of conditions,” O’Neill said.
“The horse’s last win was in the Old Boys Cup at Wauchope in October last year and that was my last winner too.”
Fellow Wauchope trainer, Colt Prosser, led in a double with a horse he declared the best he has put a saddle on.
He also won with another that simply had him shaking his head.
Stop The Fight, a horse the trainer believes is potentially the best he has trained, won the Andrew’s Carpet Cleaning Class One (1010m) with Peter Graham aboard.
He will now head off to Moree at the end of the month.
Long term however, the horse’s future will hinge on a throat operation to repair a breathing problem.
“We will keep racing her but when she is due for a spell she will go for the operation,” Prosser said.
“We are taking horses out to the Coonabarabran Cup meeting then will stay on for the Moree Cup meeting after that.”
Prosser simply shook his head after Admiral Ruff, ridden by his apprentice Mollie Partridge, won the Schweppes Benchmark 55 (1200m).
“I took him to Gunnedah last Monday and he ran second last when I thought he was a certainty,” Prosser said.
“I have no idea what happened but he did well so I decided to back him up.
“He will be going to Moree as well.”
A syndicate of owners from Kempsey, most of them new to racing, were all smiles after the Neil Godbolt trained Morning Fare won the Purnos On The Beach Maiden (1110m).
The four year old, ridden by Robert Agnew, finished down the centre of the track to beat Oakfield Time, a first starter trained by Terry Evans.
Morning Fare was previously with Stephen Farley at Wyong.
“When Stephen had his bit of trouble and was disqualified the owners asked me to take the horse and see what I could do with him,” Godbolt said.
“That’s his fourth start for me and full credit to Robert, he rode him well.”