After a solid fifth behind the Jenny Graham trio of Victorem, Awesome Pluck and Portatorio in the recent qualifying heat of the $150,000 Country Championship, Fuel highlighted a strong day’s racing with an outstanding victory in the main event at Port Macquarie.
Popular Taree trainer, Wayne Wilkes, has a strong stable at the moment and the Not a Single Doubt gelding was perfectly positioned in the early part of the race by jockey Matthew McGuren.
Despite being challenged in the straight by Zuccherina, McGuren was able to ride Fuel strongly to the line in scoring in dominant fashion and taking stake earnings to just under $57,000 with a record of three wins and four placings from fifteen appearances.
The Kris Lees stable was responsible for a training double after victories to So You Merge and Dreamy Belle while local trainer, Neil Godbolt tasted success with Sergeant Sam and Latitude.
The most impressive win on the program came from Latitude, who was ridden with great purpose by Belinda Hodder and was responsible for a dominant win by just under five lengths.
That was only the daughter of Casino Prince’s second run from a spell and a successful campaign is anticipated following a replication of today’s effort.
The Graham stable didn’t enjoy the same success as at the previous meeting with their two engaged runners, Let’s Rebelle and I’m a Rebel being beaten into second place.
Both horses should be followed as Let’s Rebelle will derive great benefit from her debut run while I’m a Rebel was resuming from a lengthy break and run an excellent race.
Racing was conducted in front of a healthy crowd under overcast skies on a good four surface with the club greatly appreciative of the sponsorship provided by the McGuigan BMW group.
The racing surface looked a picture and raced evenly with horses being near the speed and using the outside apron of the track in the straight having some advantage.
The next meeting to be conducted by the Port Macquarie Race Club is the Master Builders Association Race day on Friday 23rd March, with nominations closing the Monday prior, while the Port Macquarie Panthers fixture is scheduled for Friday 13th April.
Race 1: The Ultimate Driving Machine F&M Maiden Hcp (1206 Metres)
The Bob Holloway trained mare, Brooke, was sent out the firm favourite over Natural Image with a sprinkling of money for Westover, but they were no match for the finishing burst of Kailis Pearl.
Matt McGuren had no hesitation in driving Brooke straight to front before being challenged and headed by Louise Day aboard the Denham filly from the Marc Quinn stable, Smokin’ Suzie.
Scott Thurlow was trapped three wide on the consistent mare, Natural Image, while Kailis Pearl and Let’s Rebelle were patiently ridden in the second half of the field.
Approaching the home turn, Brooke tried to lift from Smokin’ Suzie with Ben Looker saving ground along the fence before extraditing into the clear aboard the Jenny Graham trained debutant, Let’s Rebelle.
With Let’s Rebelle issuing the acid test to the leaders approaching the finish, Chelsea Ings came with a late burst aboard Kailis Pearl to claim victory by the narrowest of margins over Let’s Rebelle with Smokin’ Suzie battling home well for third.
Hawkesbury trainer, Bronwyn Mackie, puts the polish on the Pendragon chestnut mare and the win continued the great run riding of success for Chelsea Ings.
Race 2: John Oxley Motors CG&E Maiden Hcp (1206 Metres)
Evergreen local mentor, Glen Hodge had two new stable arrivals engaged for the event in the shape of the ruling favourite, Saint Denis, and the lightly raced Pierro gelding, Shoreditch, and it was left to the latter to claim victory.
The Mighty Toff took the early lead from Wasm with Septango trapped deep and the Hodge trained gallopers patiently ridden off the speed.
There was a real charge in the run to the judge as Septango was being attacked for the front by the Show a Heart gelding, Saint Dennis, with Ray Spokes working underneath him on Shoreditch.
The Colt Prosser trained gelding, Haames, was rocketing home down the apron of the track, but had to be content with a narrow second behind Shoreditch with Septango holding his ground in third position.
Vicissitudes was responsible for a solid performance to finish behind the placegetters after being checked at vital stages in the home running.
Race 3: The New BMW X3 Maiden Plate (1006 Metres)
Punters pinned their faith on a horse resuming from a spell of eighteen months in the shape of I’m a Rebel from the Jenny Graham yard, but had to be content with second behind Sergeant Sam.
Robert Agnew took the initiative by taking the Neil Godbolt trained former Victorian, Sergeant Sam, straight to the lead with I’m A Rebel camped right behind him as the field headed for the run to the judge.
The Al Samer trained gelding kicked in the straight from I’m a Rebel with another Godbolt trained runner, Magic Melman, finding clear galloping room and launching a solid run late.
Sergeant Sam led throughout to land the race over I’m a Rebel and Magic Melman with both placegetters deriving benefit by the outing, particularly the latter who was having his first run and was specked at longer odds in betting operations.
Race 4: McGuigan BMW Since 1978 CL1 Hcp (1506 Metres)
So You Merge was confidently supported in trackside operations and didn’t let supporters down with a narrow win over the Hidden Dragon gelding from the Danny Bougoure stable, Flinders Dragon.
Shake Her Bon Bon obtained the early lead before being challenged by Zarsis with Mahervellous third and So You Merge perfectly positioned by Louise Day just off the speed.
The Barry Ratcliff trained runner, Shake Her Bon Bon, was being attacked in the straight by Mahervellous while the So You Think mare, So You Merge, was angling into the clear and Flinders Dragon was finishing quickly down the outside.
In a blanket finish, So You Merge was able to cling on to win by a long head over Flinders Dragon and Miss Zodiac, who was doing her best over the concluding stages.
Race 5: McGuigan BMW Port Macquarie BM 65 Hcp (1506 Metres)
Fuel was beaten into fifth place behind Victorem in the recent local qualifier of the Country Championships and was backed into odds on favourite when saluting over the middle distance.
The Not a Single Doubt gelding is a rising star of the Wayne Wilkes establishment and was beautifully positioned by Mathew McGuren in second place behind the early leader, Forever Alone.
With Zuccherina and Wewonya not far away as the field approached the bend, McGuren made his move on Fuel and raced to the lead with Ray Spokes angling into the clear aboard Zuccherina, who was backing up from a Coffs Harbour run last Sunday.
Fuel was able to sustain the lead to land victory in solid fashion over Zuccherina and it was significant that Louise Day made up good ground late along the fence on Wewonya, having flashed down the extreme outside to land the prize at the preceding Port start.
Race 6: BMW Premium Selection CL2 Hcp (1006 Metres)
Dreamy Belle was down in class following a first-up run at Warwick Farm and punters who took the short price were duly rewarded as the Dream Ahead filly was too strong for Patriot and Aqua Chimera.
Louise Day drove Dreamy Belle straight to the lead and despite being given no peace by Ms Wicked Nicci down the side of the track, was able to stride to a clear lead in the straight.
With Ms Wicked Nicci battling away and Aqua Chimera running an even race after a wide run, Ben Looker made his move from the second half of the field aboard Patriot to make up many lengths over the concluding stages into second place.
The Kris Lees stable could have the makings of a useful horse as Dreamy Belle has now raced on four occasions with victories at Scone and Port to her credit.
Race 7: The All New BMW X2 F&M BM 55 Hcp (1206 metres)
Following the win earlier in the day with Sergeant Sam, the Neil Godbolt stable landed the double when Latitude was responsible for a comprehensive win over I’ll Take Money and Take the Mountain.
The heavily supported favourite for the race was Jemily from the local stable of Glen Hodge, who was backed from $4.60 into $3.60, and settled well off the early speed.
Belinda Hodder made every post a winner aboard the Casino Prince mare, Latitude, by setting a blistering pace in front over I’ll Take Money and Hazelbrook.
Latitude raced further ahead as the field headed for home and scored in impressive win by just under five lengths, while the run of Jemily should be quickly dismissed after being awkwardly positioned for the majority of the race and having no luck in running.
Race 8: BMW M CG&E BM 55 Hcp (1206 Metres)
Despite the large weight impost, Mister Smartee was confidently supported into odds-on favouritism and gave backers little cause for fear as Ben Looker steered the Smart Missile gelding to a solid victory.
After being second for the majority of the event behind Clever Gent, Mister Smartee cruised to the front in the straight with Budawang charging down the outside section of the track.
Tas Morton stable followers were delighted as Mister Smartee raced home to win by around two lengths from the Tom Higgins trained gelding, Budawang, with Bluemoon Dream running an even placing after being a noticeable drifter in betting operations.