What a great sight it was witnessing five-year-old ITASCA returning a winner after he saluted at the Wyong Race Club’s Saturday meeting held on March 30. The victory made it a double for Singleton Racing after Lexi’s Choice took out the first on the card, it also recorded a double for the combination of jockey Jess Taylor and the horse after they were successful back in October 2017.
Heavy rain, especially overnight, had hit the Central Coast area resulting the Stewards rating the track a Heavy 8 (rated a Soft 6 the day before). The rail was in the normal position with overcast skies.
Today’s race was the Lake Macquarie Sheet Metal sponsored Class 2 Handicap a 1600 metre event. As previously mentioned, Jess was declared as the jockey, ITASCA’s allocated weight was 55.5kgs and they would be jumping from the outside barrier in seven.
The betting had ITASCA one of the outsiders in the market at $15.00, the $2.45 favourite was the Kris Lees horse, Everard.
The “mile” start at Wyong is located at the end of the turn after the winning post, runners have short straight before a bend so taking up a position early is important to avoid being caught wide.
The plan was to let ITASCA flop out of the gates and settle toward the rear of the field. Although tugging for more rein, Jess had her mount travelling comfortably out the back roughly six lengths off the lead which was being held by Appetizing which had gone forward from the six barrier.
Jess was quite happy to have ITASCA amble along at the rear maintaining contact with the other runners. With the positions unchanged, the rider eased on the leader passing the 1000 metres causing the field to compact slightly.
With about 800 metres to go the tempo increased and the margins between runners were widening. ITASCA was asked to up the ante which he did and around 500 metres from home was coming into the race nicely making up ground with every stride although a little wide.
Rounding the home turn now the pair were four to five horses off the fence and charging with Jess piloting a path between the widest runner, Miss Moana and the horse on her inside, the second favourite, Soldier Of Love.
The early leader, Appetizing, began to drop off 200 metres out, it was then down to two runners, ITASCA and the Bjorn Baker-trained Soldier Of Love. Within the shadows of the winning post Jess had her horse full of running under hands and heels riding and pulling clear of her rival.
ITASCA crossed the finish line a little more than a length the margin to the second horse in the time of 1:38.73, the 600 metres sectional of 35.78 was reasonable considering the conditions.
Heartiest Congratulations to long-time clients and breeders Wal and Anne Lanham who were going through a bit of a dry spell as far as winners were concerned. Here’s hoping the victories continue to come from here on in.
Once again a great job done by Singleton Racing, jockey Jess Taylor and of course ITASCA, he’s certainly matured and developed into a nice horse and all concerned are looking forward to his next few runs.