Inverell Jockey Club’s first meeting of the new season raised approximately $5,000 for the Buy a Bale fundraiser conducted on behalf of Rural Aid Australia. The prizemoney cheques were shared around with horses from Inverell, Moree, Tamworth and Taree winning on the day.
Inverell’s Scott Dixon broke the ice with a determined win by $2.50 favourite Sebbag in the first race the Stevens Contracting Maiden over 1010 metres . Sebbag is a well-bred but frustrating horse that started his career in the stables of exInverell now Group One winning trainer Pat Webster at Randwick and is still owned by the Sydney connections but now raced on lease by the Dixon family.
Sebbag, sired by champion stallion and Golden Slipper winner Sebring, had 23 attempts without winning before Saturday but with previous placings at Newcastle, Wyong and at the stronger TAB meetings he appreciated the drop back to the easier non-TAB class and won by 1 ½ lengths.
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The locals were able to claim a win of sorts when Thundering Heart stormed down the outside to win the last race the Stewarts Grain BM50 handicap under the riding of apprentice jockey Melea Castle. Thundering Heart is trained by John McLachlan who moved to Taree last year from Inverell and the return to the old home track saw a return to form for the stable.
Thundering Heart was an outsider in the field with average form before an unplaced run at Walcha in February leading McLachlan to turn him out for a spell and come to Inverell first up from the spell.
The win was the first in her career for jockey Melea Castle who commenced race riding less than a month ago and had ridden in only 14 races, mostly on outsiders, before being able to wave to the crowd as a winner on Saturday. Castle, originally from Bowraville on the mid-north coast is apprenticed to McLachlan at Taree and is able to claim a 4kg allowance on country tracks.
Castle allowed Thundering Heart to settle back in the field with a fast pace set by Newcastle Dancer racing to a six length led early but came with a big run to hit the lead about 100 metres from home. The apprentice didn’t have time for any victory salute as after hitting the lead the horse wanted to duck in to the rails and the young jockey had to straighten him up before going on to win by over 2 lengths from Just A Dame.
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Just A Dame’s late run for second for Todd Payne followed a similar unlucky finish from back in the field at Grafton on Ramornie Day.
The club donated all gate takings and race book sales to the buy a bale fund-raiser and conducted a raffle with over a $1000.00 in prizes organized by IJC past President Paul Ehsman. Committee member Kirk Wynne canvassed local business door to door on Friday and with more donations still to come the club expects the total raised to be near $5000.00 which is a great result on a chilly August day with the Rugby Highlanders and AFL Saints clubs also having big events.
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