Local trainers staged a successful hit-and-run raid at Benalla’s last race meeting of the year on December 22.
Chris Nash and Barry Goodwin both won races while Benalla based trainers could only manage a single win.
Barry Goodwin took out the $15000 Profile Developments over 1606m with the heavily-backed six-year-old gelding Freedoms greeting the judge.
One of two winners on the day for jockey Teodore Nugent, Freedoms had opened in betting at 4/1 and had been pushed to 3.20 by the time the field jumped.
After tracking the frontrunner for most of the mile Nugent asked for an effort in the straight and riding hands and heels hit the line full of running.
Goodwin said they had expected the horse to run well on its recent form.
‘‘He has been plagued with a few bad barriers, leaving him caught wide and having to do a lot to stay in touch,’’ he said.
‘‘We ended up taking him to a couple of picnic meetings to get his confidence up and he delivered at Benalla.’’
Goodwin said Freedoms has had 10 runs and some jump outs in his current preparation and with the win had earned a break for a few weeks to be freshened up.
He doubted the horse would get a city run any time soon but after some time in the paddock, getting in a few walks and some swimming, he predicted he would do well on his return.
‘‘I have only had him 12 months, and he had a bad tendon injury in his off foreleg when I got him, so it took a fair bit of care and rehab to get him back on the track,’’ Goodwin said.
‘‘He does not have any problems with it now and he runs 1600m well but we think we will get him out to 1800m to 2000m,’’ he said.
Chris Nash wasn’t prepared to put his mortgage payment on Duke of Castille in the $15000 Benalla Bowls Club Plate over 1406m.
The horse was, he said, a bit untrustworthy.
‘‘This was his first start for me and while I was a bit hopeful I was even more reserved because of his history,’’ Nash said.
Even though it was the opening race on the card, so were most punters on the day.
On a track rated a good three, Duke of Castille opened in betting at 8.50 and steadily drifted out to 12/1 but with little support.
Even that looked flattering as the horse found itself at the back of the field with favourite Hot Night at the 800m mark.
But jockey Simon Miller, who had come down from NSW for the ride, didn’t panic and started to go to work as the field rounded the bend for the turn home.
Finding his horse forced six wide it looked as though the Duke of Castille was struggling to get into his full stride and even as the line drew closer he was still getting into gear.
Fortunately he got everything going in the one direction and switched on the after burners to begin mowing down the horses ahead of him.
With metres to go Duke of Castille had gone around every horse in the race but coming from a long way back never looked to have a chance of getting there — except he just kept getting faster and incredibly was pulling away as he hit the line.
Paying $17.90 for the win, Nash probably wished he had a bit more faith but insisted he was delighted with the result and said his small investment on the Duke ‘‘would help the Christmas fund’’.
Formerly working in Darwin with his trainer father-in-law Stephen Brown, he and wife Alana (a retired jockey) now work out of Brown’s Mangalore base where they currently have 15 horses but Nash said Duke of Castille was the only one he currently had in work. He said they still go back to Darwin annually for the winter racing there.
‘‘The horse was originally being trained at Caulfield before also spending some time with Gerald Egan at Mansfield,’’ Nash said.
‘‘We are not getting too excited just yet with the win — Simon (Miller) is a mate and I asked him to come down for the ride because I did think he had a shot,’’ he said.
‘‘That combination worked well for us.’’
Nash said he is still thinking about the horse’s next start, with a Wangaratta meeting on Saturday a possibility.
‘‘Simon said he thought the horse could step up to a longer run,’’ he said.
‘‘The race at Wang is still 1600m but after that, depending how he goes, we might start trying him over 1800m and possibly even 2000m.
‘‘We will push him a bit and see what he does.’’