PHIL Anderson rode at Moree as a jockey more than 30 years ago so it was a nice welcome back to the north-western track yesterday to win the 1400m B&W Rural Moree Cup as a trainer with patched-up seven-year-old mare Winning Review.
Anderson, who trains a small team at Broadmeadow, recalled bringing a juvenile to the Spa Capital to start in the now-defunct Moree Sires Stakes but yesterday’s unlikely win was his first starter at the track in 25 years.
“I brought Peter Cook up to ride a horse for me in the Moree Sires but we didn’t win – this is my first trip back,” Anderson said as Newcastle jockey Alex Stokes brought Winning Review back to scale.
Anderson, who trains Winning Review for a group of friends headed up by syndicate manager Ross Joice, said keeping the mare together to race in career-best form had been a patient exercise – by him and the owners.
“Ross is a lovely man and he keeps everyone together,” said Anderson, who took delivery of Winning Review about three years ago when she was a rising four-year-old.
“Unfortunately she broke down – only slightly – about 18 months ago so we turned her out for six months,” Anderson said.
“We brought her back and had her in work for about six months before we gave her a barrier trial, just to make sure the leg was right.
“It was a little tendon issue but she’s done really well and is now starting to repay her owners’ patience.
“They’ve been loyal. It’s hard to tell owners that they have a five-year-old mare that’s broken down and would they like to keep going,” he laughed.
“They shook their heads and said ‘yeah, why not’.”
Winning Review fell out the back from barrier 12 but, once Stokes wound her up in the straight, the race was as good as over.
“She gets back and knows how to get home, and Alex rode her well,” Anderson said.
“She knows the horse and the horse goes well for her – when Alex hits the button, away she goes.”
Stokes parked Winning Review (13-2) at the tail of the field before “hitting the button” at the top of the straight to storm home and win by nearly two lengths from 13-4 favourite Mossamine with last year’s runner-up Clever Hans (8-1) half-a-length away third.
Stokes, 26, has gained a reputation as a feature race winner during her short career.
In recent years she’s won the Muswellbrook Cup on All Time Champion, the Wallabadah Cup on Hussisname, a Skellatar Sprint at Muswellbrook on Brother Bill and the Quirindi Spring Cup on Geigeron for old boss, Steve Hodge.
She said Winning Review had the Moree Cup wrapped up just after straightening.
“She was really starting to wind up and once she lets down she’s very hard to catch,” Stokes said.
“That’s how she’s been racing around Newcastle – it’s been working for her there so we used the same tactics today.”