A successful Saturday at the track for Kerry Weir could have been something more special, but luck was not with the Tumut trainer.
Weir finished with a win and three second placings from the five-event card.
Promising four-year-old Gift Box romped home in the Tumut Hydraulics Maiden (1200m) to provide a winner for the Weir stable on Derby Day, but Weir was left to shake his head about what might have been for his other runners.
In the only race in which one of his runners didn’t place, the distance was shortened by 200m, hindering the chances of his pick of the day, Gambling Goucho.
“It could have been better, but a win and three seconds isn’t a bad day,” Weir said.
In the opening two races Weir horses were edged out by a bob of the head – firstly favourite Terrific Tulla by a nose in the Tumut Building Supplies Maiden (1000m), and then You’re On, who was in front with 100m to go, was swamped by Ambergris on the line in the John Weir Memorial Benchmark 60 (1000m).
Weir could easily have opened the day with three victories from the first three races.
“Both You’re on and Terrifc Tula were sensational runs,” Weir said. “It just came down to the bob of the head on each occasion and it went against our horses.”
After two finishes that were difficult to judge with the naked eye, there was no doubt about Tumut galloper Gift Box’s victory.
The even-money favourite set up a commanding lead early and never wilted, scoring by four and a quarter lengths to a distant Captain Haddock ($2.40), with Weir’s Barramundi Cod ($9) a further five lengths away.
Gift Box is not without his problems, according to Weir, but shows ability.
“It’s hard to work out if he has a brain,” Weir said. “But the horse has always been able to gallop.”
Gift Box had finished third at Leeton in his previous start in early October, indicating he was ready to win.
A Home on the Grange gelding, Gift Box had been through two trainers, without starting on the track, before finishing up in Tumut with Weir.
Along with all of Weir’s other runners that started at Tumut on Saturday, he’s now likely to go over to Gundagai for the Snake Gully Cup meeting.
Weir, meantime, was left to lament a decision to shorten the final two races of the day to 1200m.
The crossing to the rugby league grounds was deemed unsafe by jockeys and the final two races, which were scheduled to be run over 1400m and a mile, were shortened to avoid the gravel road.
Weir’s Gambling Goucho, who likes to run a mile or beyond, was set to be sent out a heavily backed favourite in the A and S Groves Benchmark 50, until the race was shortened from 1400m to 1200m.
Owner, Warren Weir, had made the trip from Leeton to back his horse, and was somewhat disappointed to learn his galloper would now have to run the sprint distance.
Bookies retained Gambling Goucho as the favourite, but 1200m proved far too short, and it was Wagga long shot My Promise ($13) that appreciated the drop in running to win by three quarters of a length from My Dear Friend.
My Promise, trained by Wayne Carroll, was the rank outsider but was ridden to perfection by jockey Adam Gain and has now recorded two wins this campaign.
My Promise, a four-year-old mare, is having her second preparation, having failed to fire on wet tracks in her first couple of starts.
Carroll said the drop back from 1400m to 1200m was not an issue for the horse.
“It didn’t worry me too much,” Carroll said. “It gave her the opportunity to set the tempo, which is normally a good thing at Tumut.
“If it had been 1400m we probably would have sat off the speed.”
The final race of the day, the Tumut Toyota Class 2, was shorted from 1600m to 1200m and was taken out by Trevor Sutherland’s Perfection Pursuit.
The only horse that had run over the 1200m distance this preparation, Perfection Pursuit was sent out the even money favourite and duly delivered, winning comfortably by two and a half lengths.
Weir’s Chiselled finished second, and the Tumut trainer said the distance didn’t suit.
“Over a mile, she would have been hard to beat,” Weir said. “It was the same with Gambling Goucho.
“You just have to take these things on the the chin.