THE FMBC Cotton Cup card on Saturday was a day reminiscent of the Moree Race Club’s history-making all-apprentices’ meeting on Melbourne Cup day in 2000, with nine P-platers lining up against just four senior riders at the five-race meeting.
Sairyn Fawke, Jordan Grob, Martin Haley, Codey Hodges, Matt Powell, Courtney van der Werf, Jemma Wilson, Sophie Young and mature-aged apprentice Sue Bigg led the charge for the up-and-comers while Glenn Lynch, Ken Dunbar, Pietro Romeo and Geoff Snowden more than held their own for the senior ranks.
Lynch finished the meeting with a running double on Nazar’s Pride and The Bargain while Young, Haley and Fawke each rode a winner.
Haley, apprenticed to Grant Prosser at Wauchope, is on the comeback trail after breaking his leg at trackwork early last year.
“I broke my leg when a horse went off in the gates and that put me out for 10 months,” the 22-year-old said.
“My first day back was Boxing Day and it’s taken just that little bit longer because I was out for so long.”
The 4kg-claimer landed his second career winner on Saturday when guiding Garry Bignell’s emerging mare Maximum Vision to a narrow win in the 950m Chesterfield Moree Class 1 Handicap – surviving a protest from runner-up Storm Ahead.
“She’s a jump-and-run type of horse and I planned to get as far in front as I possibly could and play catch-me-if-you-can,” he said.
“She got a bit wobbly-legged at the end but stuck it out and finished the race off really well.”
Filipino-born 22-year-old Sairyn Fawke, in Australia since the age of two, is a first-year apprentice with Brisbane trainer Pat Duff.
He arrived in Tamworth early last week and is currently on loan to Leon Davies.
Fawke – the nephew of leading Queensland hoop Jim Byrne – enjoyed the perfect start to his career at Inverell on Boxing Day last year with a winning double from his first two rides and added to that success at Moree on Saturday on Sutton Express for Martin Fernando.
“Jim has helped me out a lot and that’s pretty much how I got into racing,” Fawke said.
“I thought I’d come down to Tamworth for a bit of experience. Leon has got a good team of horses and great staff.”
Jordan Grob, at 17 the youngest apprentice at Moree on Saturday, was having just his second career ride when unplaced on Peter Cleal’s Time in a Bottle behind Maximum Vision.
Grob is on loan to Sue Grills at Tamworth after transferring from David Kelly at the Gold Coast.
“David sent me down to Sue for a bit of bush experience and hopefully it will pay off,” said Grob, a “stablemate” to fellow apprentice Sophie Young. “Sue has about 25 horses in work so that keeps us busy of a morning.”
Grob has had just three career rides – the first recently at Dalby and two at Moree on Saturday.
“I can ride at 50kg pretty easily and hopefully I’ll be riding at Armidale next Sunday,” he said.