Lee Van Den Bos and Michael Plummer both had plenty of reason to smile come the end of Racing Orange’s Poets Race Day meeting at Towac Park on Friday, the Orange trainers both picked up victories late in the eight-race program.
Van Den Bos’ Loves A Hassle proved exactly why he started the CWT Happy 50th Jen Benchmark 66 Handicap (1300 metres) as a $3.50 favourite while Plummer’s Fine Hero, a new addition to the stable, scored a stunning win at long odds in the final race of the afternoon.
With celebrated hoop Greg Ryan on board Loves A Hassle, who ran in the Country Championships Qualifier at Mudgee earlier this year, settled toward the back of the field from barrier three, skipping three wide at the turn for home and storming down the straight to win.
He hit the line beautifully to win by a touch over half a length, saluting in front of Mike Van Gestel’s Charlie Chap ($3.60) and Craig Weeding’s Choice Harvest ($8.50) in second and third respectively.
Alison Smith’s Missy Rhythmos, a mare that’s tended to favour a slightly shorter trip, sat toward the head of the field for the majority of the sprint, but faded and was overrun in the straight to eventually finish fifth.
Fine Hero, which jumped at 14-to-one lugging 60.5kg from a wide alley in barrier nine, produced a huge run to score an unlikely victory against far more-fancied rivals.
Facing the likes of Gary Portelli’s $2.60 favourite Showgals and Dean Mirfin’s Jetgirl, the next shortest at $4 leading in, Katie Jenkinson timed her run on board the five-year-old magnificently.
Despite sitting two or three wide for much of the run and then being forced to the very outside lane in the straight, once Jenkinson and Fine Hero wound up about 300 out from the post the win never looked in doubt.
Showing an incredible turn of pace Jenkinson pushed the outsider to the lead at the 200 mark and extending the margin to a length, before easing off in the last 50 metres or so and cruising home.
It was Fine Hero’s debut for Plummer after arriving at Towac Park from John Moloney’s stable, and was also his first run back from a 39-week spell.
The victory is the third of the five-year-old’s 15-start career, a group of wins that sits nicely alongside the gelding’s three placings.
Smith had watched her up-and-comer Supreme Gem run to second earlier in the meeting and the day after had Absolute Ripper start at Rosehill.
She sat the front of a classy field for some time in the Rosehill Bowling Club After Party Sprint (1100m) but having jumped from barrier 12 was caught three-wide without cover for a lot of the run and eventually faded in the sprint, finishing 11th.
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