COL Hodges nailed the summation of yesterday’s $15,000 R-Tec Building Benchmark 75 Handicap (1600m), won by Garry McCarney’s gelding Fox Solid.
“There’s no doubt about him,” Racing NSW’s country race caller echoed across Towac Park referring to Central Western Districts champion hoop Greg Ryan.
“He’s a master, master jockey and that was a beautiful ride.”
In a race many punters believe could be a prelude to next month’s rich $55,000 Hartford’s Menswear Orange Gold Cup, Ryan guided Fox Solid ($4.60) brilliantly down the home stretch at Towac Park to edge Color Purple ($7) by a nose, with favourite Haut Normandie ($3.80) a further head back.
Brett Thompson’s champion gelding Hewentwhoosh ($13) finished in fourth.
In a hot field - Ryan and Fox Solid broke the track and class record for 1600 metres at Towac Park with one minute, 34.61 seconds, 38 hundredths of a second faster than the time the Lee Van Den Bos-trained Battant Glory ran in race one yesterday - the class of Ryan shone through.
The Ryan-Fox Solid combination, now a winning one, could be on show come April 12 when the Gold Cup jumps at Towac Park.
That’s now up to McCarney.
Should the bay gelding be nominated, he could also be up against a number of yesterday’s runners.
Ryan said he wasn’t surprised at the speed of the race, run hard by the likes of renowned front runners Haut Normandie and Oceanic early in the piece.
“It was going to be quick because there was three noted leaders in the race,” Ryan said.
“It was always going to be a quick time.”
Run hard early by Haut Normandie, Oceanic soon took the lead and held the front running until the 400 metre mark.
It was then Ryan made his move.
Guiding Fox Solid down the rail, the champion jockey held strong to edge the win, with a photo finish needed to separate the first three.
“There was good speed in it (yesterday) which was always going to help but he sort of came out of the barriers a bit hot today. He wanted to race against them. He wasn’t going to settle for me,” Ryan said following the race.
“I had all the main chances in front of me in the race... I wasn’t concerned about anything, even though I was bottled up, sweeping around me.
“I got a little bit held up just on straightening and it opened up and he proved too strong.”